Positive NSW Budget- but housing construction a risk: Chris Johnson

Positive NSW Budget- but housing construction a risk: Chris Johnson
Positive NSW Budget- but housing construction a risk: Chris Johnson

GUEST OBSERVER

The NSW Budget demonstrates good economic management but the housing construction sector must continue to perform.

The main risk to the very positive NSW Budget is the outlook for the housing market.

Budget Paper No 1, Section 3.4 states ‘The largest risk to the forecasts, both to the upside and the downside, is the outlook for the housing market...’

The Budget indicates that stamp duty from the housing sector is $8.8 billion for 2015 – 16, $9.6 billion for 2016 – 17 and predicted to be $9.6 billion for 2017 – 18.

These are massive inputs to the Budget amounting to 31% of the state’s taxation revenue.

The Budget treads a delicate path between actions to help with housing affordability while continuing to boost housing supply.

The Urban Taskforce is concerned that there are a number of trends in the planning system that could upset this balance and slow down housing supply and therefore reduce stamp duty revenue.

The Budget initiatives on housing affordability are to help first home owners by eliminating or reducing stamp duty but the former Governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, has raised concerns that the saving may simply flow into higher house prices.

Glenn Stevens, in his report to the NSW Government on housing affordability, also cautioned another initiative in the NSW Budget where a levy is to be added on stamp duty for foreign investors as this could slow down housing supply.

Other risks to the forecasts for the housing market include the growing trend of Sydney councils of adding 10-15 percent levies on new housing on new housing developments to provide for affordable housing.

The Urban Taskforce believes this has the flow on effect of inflating the price of the other 90 percent of housing in the development, making these homes more costly and unaffordable to buy, or it will make projects unfeasible and therefore reduce supply.

The continuing confusion over local council amalgamations is also a risk to effective planning decisions being made.

The allocation of $14 million in the Budget and $40 million over the next 40 years to housing affordability should ensure that the Office of Housing Coordination and the Housing Delivery staff in the Department of Planning and Environment will be able to unlock key projects that are caught up in the planning system.

The $123 million allocated to the Parramatta Road Urban Amenity Improvement Program is a positive input to help drive the renewal of this corridor. 

The high investment in infrastructure of $72.7 billion over 4 years is an important initiative to underpin population growth in the state and particularly in Sydney. The investment in the Sydney Metro is particularly important.

The allocation of $12.5 million ($70.6 million over 4 years) to accelerate major project assessments is also very positive.

Overall the Budget demonstrates that NSW is being well managed in terms of finance. Most of the Budget items were released before the Treasurer’s speech.

The Urban Taskforce is keen to work with the NSW Government to ensure that the economic and jobs boost coming from a vibrant housing market continues into future years.

 

Chris Johnson is chief executive officer of property development industry group Urban Taskforce and can be contacted here.

Tags: 
Housing Affordability Nsw Budget

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