Too soon to write off home grant: premier

Premier Barry O'Farrell says it's far too early to write off a scheme aimed at encouraging NSW residents to purchase new houses, despite reports uptake has been slow.

In October last year, the state government began offering those who bought their first home newly built or off-the-plan a $15,000 incentive, for properties valued up to $650,000.

Treasurer Mike Baird said at the time the grant would encourage the construction of new homes across the state.

But Fairfax Media reports fewer than 400 people have been paid the grant under the new scheme.

In October last year 50 grants were paid, 156 in November and 172 in December.

Grants were paid to 233 people in October 2011 under the previous incentive scheme that offered $7000 to first home buyers, without the condition they purchase newly constructed homes.

The government also paid 293 grants in November 2011 and a further 237 the following month.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch's chief economist Saul Eslake told Fairfax the figures showed the new system of grants was off to a slow start.

But Mr O'Farrell said it was "far too soon ... to write off what is a sensible project".

"We know there's lies, damn lies and statistics," he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

"Let's see a detailed trend. This program only came into operation in October,"

Mr O'Farrell said about four times as many new homes were bought in December 2012 compared to the previous year and critics should hold their tongues until the scheme had been operating for a year.

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