With COVID-19 now well managed, it’s time to look ahead to Australia’s 10-year horizon, with particular focus given to the affordability issue, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA).
Looking towards the federal budget’s unveiling in May, the industry body has flagged that “focus must remain on fuelling the economic engine and restoring not just a COVID-safe but a COVID-stable operating environment for all Australians”.
REIA president Adrian Kelly considers the virus as having been “caught and managed” on Australian shores, meaning it is now time to turn attention to key issues that will be fundamental on the nation’s 10-year horizon.
Housing prices and affordability have been absolute flashpoint issues since the onset of the pandemic,” he said.
He cited statistics from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), which reports around 17 key areas of stimulus by state and federal governments to boost home ownership and assist Australians out of rentals.
“As the housing market remains extremely competitive, it is time to increase our efforts,” Mr Kelly considered.
The president believes “it is time for a national industry-government plan for housing across home ownership, private rental as well as social and affordable housing, and homelessness”.
“We have seen so much investment into first home buyers, HomeBuilder and social housing with the build-to-rent pipeline up 70 per cent in the past year that we really need to get industry and government of all levels at the table to tackle housing from a bigger-picture perspective,” he argued.
He added that with the growth of regionalisation, “we will need more land released, better social infrastructure and a plan to build more houses to keep up with demand”.
The president said: “Our cities will need assistance as they readjust from lockdowns and continued support of work-from-home arrangements across the board.
“As COVID-19 support measures end, having a proper plan will only benefit Australians no matter what their situation is.”
Three of the biggest “critical issues” the budget should look to fix in 2021, according to the REIA, are:
• The deposit gap for first home buyers
The REIA is calling for an expansion of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) to make it a long-term program.
• Unfair property taxation incentives
According to the institute, interest rates for first home buyers need to be fairer; they should be tax-deductible against an appropriate cap.
• Supporting vulnerable Aussies
The REIA is requesting prolonged support for individuals working in the sectors that have taken longer to recover from government-led shutdowns.