Helping young people get onto a level property playing field: Mal James

Helping young people get onto a level property playing field: Mal James
Helping young people get onto a level property playing field: Mal James


Dear Young People, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy.

Please consider younger homebuyers getting access to their super funds, to help them buy a home – please help young homebuyers level up the playing field.

Please don’t say the super idea will start in 2025 – say it will start now – as the time for having children may pass some by during this time.

Granted, it will add a bit more fuel to the market fire – but is that a fair-go reason, not to help young people get onto a level playing field?

It's not a level playing field - Reason 1

When I, as a 57-year-old tax payer can go to an Inner Melbourne auction for $1 million and it cost me $20,000 of my income to buy it – YET for a young homebuyer it costs them $80,000 of their income to buy that same home. It’s not fair. This is not a level playing field.

Is the market out of control, dangerous or is it doing what it should?

“Beggars belief – Defies logic – Unsustainable”

These are the headlines that in part, are being attached to the reasons why we should not help YOUNG PEOPLE with access to their super.

Can I ask why the authors of these headlines say this about the Inner Melbourne market?

What do they mean – what beggars belief in their mind?

That more and more people are wanting to come to Inner Melbourne?

That for all it’s internally recognised faults; Melbourne is seen externally as one of the truly great places in the world to bring up a family.

That political stability, business opportunities, an overarching community attitude of fair play, jobs, education, pollution, gun laws, health system, labour protections and………. are on the tick-off list of almost all skilled migrants in this world.

Why does our strong Inner Melbourne housing market, beggar belief?

Do the economists, bankers and other business people who are saying this, not believe in this century’s old economic demand and supply thesis.

Click to enlarge


What “defies logic” about the current Inner Melbourne housing and land market?

False assumptions or different perceptions

In a country, that for decades has been focused on “low fat”, only to become one of the obese nations of the world.

Is it defying logic to think that if we put more calories in (population), than we can exercise out (land), then our bellies will not explode (prices)?

It's not a level playing field - Reason 2

This government supported graphic below, is the Inner Melbourne home market price obesity issue.

This is another of the structural community decisions, that we as older people have made, that are impacting young people.

It’s great for us!

Our asset values go up; but it’s very difficult for young people who do not have housing assets.

Click to enlarge


The true Inner Melbourne market price obesity issue is population and the lack of discussion we have around the actual number, rather than the issues.

Are the above population figures acceptable or not – are they sustainable or not?

Yes a falling population has different issues – look at Japan.

However Inner Melbourne doesn’t have a falling population issue – we have the opposite.

So are we really in some unexplainable pricing bubble, so bad that we can’t help YOUNG people because the market is “dangerous”?

Or are we in a normal, but strong market explained by limited supply (land) and increasing demand (population); which affects young people UNFAIRLY because of structural inequities around negative gearing, skilled migration, overseas investment and so on.

One final world about unsustainability of the market, before we get back to young people – young sub-million homebuyers.

These days we are all talking about “unsustainable.”

We seem to be focused on “unsustainable” pricing, rather than our “unsustainable” society as a whole?

In 2030 when your children’s children (grandkids) are 2-3 hours away in Albury or Bendigo, because of housing affordability inequities; or you can’t get an ambulance driver or a teacher, because they can’t find housing in your local area – is that the unsustainable bit you should be talking about or is it pricing?

We live in a society with some issues, but compared to many in the world right now, Inner Melbourne is one of the great pluralistic societies.

We have many obsessions like footy and food and housing AND population growth.

And as our population grows, I’m with the well known economist from Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear who says the Inner Melbourne housing market will, without a change in circumstance, continue to rise, with a few interruptions, ’till infinity and beyond.

Of course there will be hiccups and of course those that cry wolf often enough about doom and gloom, will eventually be right – but in the longer term are we really in so much trouble, that we can’t help young people?

Possibly when an assistant at the Reserve Bank or a leader of business says we are in danger, they are doing so for altruistic reasons to make people think, or they are under the boss’s riding instructions to “hose the market down” – BUT – when those statements are not attached with an additional explanation like – you still can buy a home only have a buffer for interests rate increases, then are those well meaning “expert” comments all that helpful?

Especially when all they usually hose down are the inexperienced homebuyers like the Youngies, who are nervous, in need of permanent housing and are already up against it.

If you believe in demand and supply, then possibly our Inner Melbourne market is not dangerous and we are in nothing more than a strong market.

Which brings us back to the young people in our society.

The young people's housing issue, in our opinion, should be addressed – it will not go away by osmosis AND it is UNFAIR.

Which brings us back to young people and their superannuation funds.

This could be a bloody good idea to level up the playing field for not us oldies, but for young people.

Young people don’t need special treatment; they just need a releveling of a very unlevel and UNFAIR playing field.

I will repeat – with my tax advantages as a 57-year-old tax payer I can go to an Inner Melbourne auction for $1 million and it cost me $20,000 of my income to buy it – YET for a young homebuyer it costs them $80,000 of their income to buy that same home, then that is UNFAIR.

As well, my deposit can come from the increase in my current home value for which I have done little – except make a few smart decisions over the last few decades – before many young people were born.

That possibly is unfair (but maybe not). My point – a young person’s deposit is so, so much harder to get – super could help.


Overseas skilled migration and overseas investors. With tax and other structural advantages, Xiou Lin from Beijing or Peter Pepper from the US, can buy that same Australian $1 million home with a myriad of interest rate and currency advantages over a local young homebuyer.

And please financial planners, bankers and so on – please don’t start telling us that young people’s money is better tied up in one of your funds, rather than good land content, near rail with a workable floor plan.

Please don’t do that without declaring your conflicts as well and showing us the stats that actually evidences that theory may have a scintilla of historical truth.

Young people, young Australians of all cultural backgrounds and religions are being pushed out of our society by housing structural unfairness such as negative gearing, skilled migration policies, overseas investment policies and restricted infrastructure spending.

We as older people have resided over a Tax and Immigration system, with the unintended consequence of making the homebuying market very unfair for young people.

It’s not a guilt trip, I don’t feel bad, I just think we should try and level it up a bit and MAYBE SUPER (under controlled circumstances and with due regard to other issues, such as the current industry) could do that.

The past week’s media blast on how bad an idea it is to try and help young people, because it may already add to a strong housing market is a valid point BUT total baloney in the overall scheme of things for young people.

I’m no rocket scientist and therefore I don’t know if the superannuation idea will work for sure, but it seems logical and worth a try.

This and other measures should be tried or Inner Melbourne may well become a desert of walking frames, grumpy old farts, unoccupied housing and NO YOUNG PEOPLE in a few decades.

Hawthorn, Toorak and Brighton could be just one big nursing home in 2035.

Try the superannuation idea and don’t make it too hard for young people to access it.

Please Young People, Daniel Andrews, Matthew Guy, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten – give the super idea some serious consideration – it seems to makes sense in giving young people a chance to get back on the playing field, with their biggest challenge – a deposit.

Apologies about being on a high horse and I’m not wedded to the super idea, nor am I the author of the idea – I just think it’s a bloody good idea worth being positive over and worth exploring for young people AND we oldies need to recognise that the current system is unfair for Youngies – and that may not be in our best interests in a decade or so.

MAL JAMES is principal of James Buyer Advocates, which advocates on behalf of buyers of property over $1 million. Mal writes weekly auction reports, advice and in-depth market analysis on James' website.

First Home Buyers Residential Market

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