Wagga residents have been priced out of the federal government's scheme to boost the residential construction sector, according to local experts.
The HomeBuilders grant was tipped to put $25,000 in the hands of renovators, but builders and real estate agents say the criteria is so narrow that almost nobody has qualified for it.
Wagga builder Anthony Wisely said he had not heard of anyone who was eligible for the HomeBuilders grant, saying the criteria was "too tight" to be of much use.
Under the scheme, renovators must spend at least $150,000 of their own money, as well as pass a long list of other conditions.
Affordable Homes client manager Amanda Hallcroft said she was yet to meet anyone who had cleared those hurdles, saying that a renovation of that scale was just not practical in Wagga.
"For what we would do in our local area, I think it is a bit too high to spend $150,000," Mrs Hallcroft said. "I think it would suit city areas more."
However, the scheme also includes a $25,000 grant for those who build a new home worth between $150,000 and $750,000, which Mrs Hallcroft said was more achievable for Wagga residents.
Lancaster Homes builder Baden Lancaster said he knows a few people who qualify for the new building part of the grant, but does not know of anyone who is eligible for the renovator portion.
He said some people were "pretty upset" about how high the bar had been set, but Mr Lancaster said he still thought the grant was an overall positive way to kickstart the economy.
Re/Max real estate director Dave Skow said clearing the HomeBuilder hurdle was a "tall order" for the average Wagga renovator, given the value of properties in regional Australia.
"To spend 150 grand given Wagga's average house price, that represents 30 to 40 per cent of the property's entire value," he said.
However, Mr Skow said the market was now showing "very active" interest in building new houses, which he said could prove worrying for those trying to sell newer homes.
"It's probably had a bit of a depressing impact on prices being able to be achieved for those near new-homes. They're probably suffering, to be honest," Mr Skow said.
"We've got a couple of properties that are two, three years old in some of those growth suburbs like Gobbagombalin who have had people interested in buying their homes, but they've now decided instead to buy land and build or buy brand new."
Mr Skow said the demand among buyers was still very high, especially with housing supply running thin as homeowners continue to sit on their properties amid coronavirus anxiety.
The situation is the same for Hore & Davies director John Bittar, who said there were plenty of people looking to buy a house, but few people willing to sell during lockdown.
"There's no doubt that demand is currently outstripping supply," Mr Bittar said.
"Supply at the moment is low, and maybe that's due in part to potential sellers not being aware of how busy the market is, and how many buyers are in the market currently."
Mr Bittar said demand for residential land was particularly high in the last two to three weeks, as buyers prepare to take advantage of the HomeBuilders grant to construct new houses.
"It has certainly seen the level of inquiry from buyers spike since that was announced on the fourth of June," Mr Bittar said.
"At the moment our market is standing up very, very nicely in light of the COVID situation, so it's overall positive."