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Housing and homelessness plan must contain ‘big picture reform’: REIA

By Kyle Robbins
31 October 2023 | 10 minute read
Hayden Groves REIWA reb

Australia’s peak real estate body has called for the National Housing and Homelessness Plan to deliver actions against several key issues, including a severe housing shortage and geopolitical challenges.

In its comprehensive submission on a National Housing and Homelessness Plan to the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has urged for “big picture reform” to cure the nation’s housing ailments.

REIA president Hayden Groves believes the plan must have a wide-ranging remit which is considerate of the nation’s severe housing shortfall, its ageing population, a tense geopolitical climate and demands for trust and transparency from consumers.

Earlier this year, Housing Australia, then known as the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), said the nation is set to face a housing supply shortage of more than 100,000 homes in the next five years, a figure which highlights Australia’s glaring shortfall.

On top of this, Mr Groves noted: “Australia is one of the fastest growing countries in the OECD, just signed up to net zero, with a rapidly ageing population, declining home ownership, a tight labour market, and housing consumers that are demanding a more digital and transparent property transaction.”

He emphasised “it’s in this context we need to consider the factors for the plan to map out Australia’s housing requirements to 2024”.

In his view, this would include enacting several larger reform packages including “phasing out stamp duty which would conservatively introduce an additional 4 per cent of listings back into the sales market”.

He noted such changes will inspire “broader ranging economic and societal benefits to be simultaneously achieved”.

“It was a broken promise with the delivery of the GST and now it’s a housing supply problem,” he said.

On top of this, he stressed more needs to be done to “maintain a laser-like focus on helping young Aussies into home ownership”.

Earlier this week, research from Canstar revealed the great Australian dream of home ownership is being pushed further from the reach of young Australians by consistently rising house prices, with the current value increasing trajectory not far off completely removing them from the home ownership equation.

Similarly, Antonia Mercorella, chief executive officer at the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ), said more action must be undertaken in the Sunshine State to encourage more young residents into home ownership.

She explained “barely one in three Queenslanders aged 25 to 34 own their property”, with the dream of home ownership now viewed as “unattainable for many”.

Dubbing home ownership as a “hallmark of long-term prosperity”, Mr Groves insisted the issue must be tackled by the plan.

He also stressed the importance of considering other key investment cohorts in the plan, especially considering Australia’s $10 trillion residential property market and the fact that the sector “currently has residential rental assets under management estimated to be $3 trillion, supplied by around 2.2 million Australian family investors”.

“So much emphasis and hope has been placed by the Australian government and civil society stakeholders on institutional investment,” he said.

“This includes repeated suggestions that negative gearing should be phased out as an option for Australian households which would have the upshot of benefitting the big end of town like multinational corporations and the very super funds you are required by law to put your pay into,” Mr Groves explained.

He believes a key way of increasing the plan’s effectiveness is outlining the “respective pools of capital and grasp that family investment will be critical in every way to achieving our housing goals by 2034”.

Once this understanding is reached, he proclaimed a simple question must be posed: “How can we get more family investors into housing over the next 10 years rather than less?”

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