FHB deposit guarantee scheme shows politicians don't understand the housing market: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder

FHB deposit guarantee scheme shows politicians don't understand the housing market: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder
FHB deposit guarantee scheme shows politicians don't understand the housing market: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder


The biggest recurring problem for real estate is politicians who don’t understand the industry. Which is pretty much all of them, on both sides of politics.

They also display a chronic inability to think through the consequences of their policies designed to impact housing markets. This sad truth is evident in the policies from both the major parties in the impending Federal Election.

We’re going into Saturday’s poll with no policies from any of the major parties that address the fundamental problems of the housing industry, of which affordability is the biggest. What they’ve served up just fiddles around the edges of the problem.

The Liberal Party has announced a plan that will make it easier for first-time buyers to get loans with smaller deposits, by supporting loans to people who have saved 5% of the purchase price. Federal Labor has given a “me, too” response to that policy (and why not, they’re spending like drunken sailors, why not just add this to the national credit card as well).

But the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme will be available to only a limited number of FHB borrowers and it fails to address the core issues – the price they will pay for properties and the associated costs of getting into the market.

Labor’s core policy is changing negative gearing tax benefits. This is a revenue measure dressed up as a policy to improve housing affordability but clearly it won’t make a positive difference, while creating myriad problems elsewhere.

Whenever they’re asked whether their negative gearing policy will force down house prices, Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen are adamant that it won’t. That being the case, how does it improve affordability? The answer is: it doesn’t. It’s purely a revenue measure.

What the policy will do is put first-home buyers in direct competition with investors for new properties.

This is the polar opposite of the Labor’s stated intentions, because they say they want to prevent FHBs having to compete with investors. These clowns simply don’t understand their own policy or its consequences.

Currently most first-time buyers have to buy or build a new home if they want a state grant. And investors are encouraged to buy new by the recent changes to depreciation benefits. Now Labor says investors will get tax benefits through negative gearing only if they buy new.

So everyone will be compelled to buy new rather than established property. Labor’s policy puts FHBs on a collision course with investors.

The thing is, most buyers don’t want to buy new because it’s usually considerably more expensive than a comparable second-hand home. The core problem in real estate, and none of the major parties are addressing this, is the high cost of creating new dwellings in Australia. 

The costs are so high because all three levels of government milk real estate for revenue. They treat the housing industry as their favourite cash cow. Stamp duty, land tax, capital gains tax, GST, rates, infrastructure charges, application fees, the list goes on and on.

Every time a state or territory government brings down a budget, it adds to the affordability problem by increasing existing imposts or imposing new ones. It’s relentless and it’s the core of the affordability problem.

Everyone (if Labor wins) will be pushed to buy new property but the prices are unreasonably high, thanks to our cynical politicians.

This is occurring at a time when new supply is drying up, partly because federal and state policies have extinguished the contribution of foreign investors – officially to help FHBs but in truth just another grab for cash. 

The surcharges placed on foreign investors in Australian real estate are revenue-raising measures, pure and simple, but they’re hurting Australian buyers by killing off projects that can no longer make the required level of pre-sales to get funding. The reduced supply is just another component of the affordability problem. 

Another unforeseen consequence of the Labor policy will be a revival of the spruiker industry. With most categories of buyers being compelled to buy new – e.g. off-the-plan apartments – we will see a revival of the get-rich-quick seminars that used to proliferate, where crooks make lots of money by ripping off unsuspecting consumers.

So it's not much of a choice this Saturday for voters who care about the housing industry and its related issues, like housing affordability. 

Labor proposes to increase the taxation burden on the real estate industry, which will worsen the problem, and the Liberal pitch may make it easier for FHBs to get a loan to buy a home, but it won’t make the cost of the home cheaper.

It’s a choice between dumb and dumber.

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au

[email protected]


Currently MOST first-time buyers have to buy or build a new home if they want a state grant

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au.

Terry Ryder Federal Election

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