Real estate association jumps into election debate

Queensland’s peak body has challenged Labor and Liberal to put real estate reform “at the top of the political agenda” if they win the upcoming state election.

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland said the next government should abolish stamp duty, extend first home owner grants and allow potential buyers to access their superannuation.

Chief executive Antonia Mercorella said real estate contributes more than $8 billion towards Queensland’s gross state product and supports almost 50,000 jobs throughout the state.

“That’s why we’re challenging the state’s lawmakers to ensure real estate reform is at the top of the political agenda throughout 2015,” she said.

Ms Mercorella said stamp duty on property transactions should be abolished and replaced by a more efficient source of revenue.

“It’s a regressive tax which imposes additional costs on property transactions, thereby discouraging turnover of housing and distorting choices between renting and buying,” she said.

“It also distorts choices between moving house and renovating and can deter labour mobility for those changing jobs, resulting in reduced investment in the property market.”

Ms Mercorella also said the next government should reinstate the first home owner grant for existing housing, so that incentives exist for both new and established housing.

“First home owner grants are an important form of financial assistance and there’s no sound basis for the preferential treatment which currently exists for buyers who purchase newly built properties,” she said.

“A more widely available first home owner grant will strengthen the real estate market, while delivering a crucial boost to the state’s wider economy.”

Ms Mercorella said another way to promote growth would be to make it easier for younger Queenslanders to enter the property market.

“One of the biggest obstacles they face is getting a deposit together, so it makes sense to allow them to access their super for this purpose, provided the money is paid back within a specific period,” she said.

The Queensland state election will be held on 31 January.

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