How our state and Federal Governments can support the property industry during COVID-19

How our state and Federal Governments can support the property industry during COVID-19
May 29, 2020

There is not a single person or business that has not been affected by the widespread COVID-19 pandemic. From the forced closures across the fitness and hospitality industry, every Australian has been impacted in some way, whether physically, mentally, or economically. The wider property industry is no exception.

During this tough period, we are witness to never-before-seen action taken by developers nationwide, in order to adapt to the current circumstances. From virtual display suite tours to one-on-one appointments with purchasers to maintain social distancing, there is no doubt the industry has seen a slow down in purchaser engagement. 

Following the Federal Government’s commendable actions in providing an economic stimulus package of up to  $320 billion to support households and businesses, it is imperative that they also look to aid the property and construction industries. In Victoria alone, this sector is responsible for approximately 8.7 percent of Victoria’s state employment. By introducing incentives for off-the-plan purchasing, removing stamp duty costs or introducing rebates akin to the First Home Owner Grant for local purchasers, there opens the opportunity to help stimulate the industry and more broadly, the country’s economy. Looking specifically at Victoria, acknowledging Melbourne’s status as an international city that relies heavily on migration as a positive economic driver, it would be within reason to consider relaxing FIRB requirements for foreign buyers to purchase property and access to Australian home loans.

Though international travel is currently subject to official government bans, there is no doubt that once the time comes for our borders to re-open, there will be many hoping to take advantage of it — a result of Australia’s comprehensive and considered response to controlling the pandemic, as well as low-interest rates, high quality of life and stringent building regulations.

There should be legislative incentives conceived now to generate sales, if not pique interest with those whose cash is ready to invest. Continuing to allow construction sites to remain open whilst adhering to social distancing regulations has enabled the industry to ensure hundreds of thousands of workers stay employed and afforded a stable income. This needs to continue. 

While there is certainly a long road ahead, economic survival beyond COVID-19 must ensure the property industry continues in a favourable environment for local and international investments once again. Of course, our recovering economy is reliant on countless factors beyond simply property and construction. But if State and Federal Governments (either independently or as part of COAG) consider incentive schemes, perhaps our economy could weather the storm better than many would expect.

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