Navigating the housing market with confidence requires policy consistency from our federal leaders

Navigating the housing market with confidence requires policy consistency from our federal leaders
Navigating the housing market with confidence requires policy consistency from our federal leaders

Housing affordability supposedly ranks as a top-three Federal election issue, after the cost of living and healthcare and ageing, according to a survey by the Housing Industry Association.

Affordability ranked ahead of immigration and the environment, concluded the JWS Research survey of 1500 people.

"The importance of home ownership to Australians couldn't be clearer. Now more than ever, home ownership matters," the Housing Industry Association chief economist Tim Reardon noted.

It comes as first home buyers have been more active in the market with Sydney housing around 10% more affordable than this time last year.

A typical Sydney dwelling now costs $789,000, below the $884,000 it was early last year, according to CoreLogic. The biggest Sydney declines have been in the municipalities of Ryde and Canterbury-Bankstown.

Of course, it is not just those aspiring to first home ownership that worry about affordability, as separate polling research in Tony Abbott's seat of Warringah on Sydney's Northern beaches indicated.

The concerns of Warringah voters focused around infrastructure, especially roads and traffic congestion, population growth, environmental concerns, but also housing affordability for their children.

The focus groups, sponsored by the University of Canberra’s Democracy 2025 project and conducted by Landscape Research, suggested older Warringah voters were more engaged, more readily able to discuss issues in federal politics, while younger voters have largely tuned out, feeling powerless.

Reardon said the Australian dream of owning a home was "still embedded in the psyche of Australians". He adds with a federal election imminent, it was important to recognise that 71% of people believe governments have an important role in helping Australians achieve their dream.

Interestingly, the HIA research found that home ownership was viewed as especially important to achieving financial stability in retirement.

This comes as there's continuing debate about whether first home buyers should be allowed to access their superannuation.

It flared again recently after a key recommendation from Kenneth Hayne's Financial Services Inquiry.

Hayne says superannuation should be solely to look after Australians in retirement, not first home purchases.

Any incoming Federal Labor Government will accordingly phase out the Coalition government's First Home Super Saver Scheme that allows first timers to access their super accounts.

The scheme, which enables first time buyers to access extra savings put into their superannuation account, was introduced in the 2017 budget by then treasurer Scott Morrison. He argued it would help young people accelerate their savings to buy into markets.

Between the start of the program on July 1 last year and February this year, around 2400 people have made requests to access their super top-up.

That equated to around 4% of the first home buyers who'd secured a home loan over the period.

They have sought the release equating to a helpful $12,000 per person.

Labor voted against the scheme when it was created, but assures current users of the scheme they will not be affected by their policy. 

It is one of many housing schemes ditched by governments in recent times as they come and go.

We have seen off the National Rental Affordability Scheme and the First Home Saver Account schemes too.

I'd suggest one reason for the young voter feeling powerless was this constant changing tides with policy.

Navigating the housing market with confidence, for any age, requires policy consistency from our federal leaders.

This article first appeared in The Daily Telegraph. 

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

Housing Affordability Housing Policy

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