John Symond says Labor's negative gearing 'frightening', fears recession

John Symond says Labor's negative gearing 'frightening', fears recession
John Symond says Labor's negative gearing 'frightening', fears recession

Aussie John Symond has warned of a potential recession if Labor's plan to limit negative gearing to freshly constructed dwellings goes ahead, calling it "frightening" in an appearance on Seven's Sunrise program on Sunday. 

"Who knows? I don't know whether prices will drop 10 percent, 20 percent or more," he said.

The property tycoon and founder of Aussie Home Loans predicted a slide in home prices under Labor.

"It is frightening and it will frighten others . . . and it creates this stampede. And that's my concern that there could be a glut of properties come on the market, force the prices down, and then all of a sudden it could be Armageddon with the housing industry that's propped up the Australian economy the last four years."

Symond joins another industry leader, Stockland boss who expressed a similiar recession fear last week. 

Mark Steinert, chief executive of Australia's largest residential property developer, Stockland, believes Labor's housing policy has "the potential to destabilise the entire economy" – to the extent of "risking a recession".

"At the end of the day, house prices are unlikely to adjust so much that it would really change that affordability equation anyway," Steinert told the Australian Financial Review.

"And if they do, believe me it won't be a recession. It will be a depression."

Steinert told columnist Jennifer Hewitt property is such a major force driving Australian growth and activity, that even a small change in the market and in sentiment flows through the entire economy. 

"Housing represents $6.5 trillion of the Australian people's wealth," he told The Australian Financial Review. 

"It is so big and so many people are involved that even when that order of magnitude of change is obviously small compared to the stock market…its affects people.

"It becomes the new dinner party conversation.

"People feel poorer. 

"They buy less in the shops and people employ less and people are less willing to borrow money to start a business and suddenly that goes on.

"That is how markets work.

"The only way you deal with affordability in my view is first and foremost about supply…in a structural way.

"You cannot deal with affordability in a manageable way by de-stabilising the largest asset in the country."

Symond's fears were dismissed by Labor's shadow parliamentary treasury secretary and western Sydney MP, Ed Husic, who called them "outrageous", according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It's a shame that Malcolm Turnbull and John Symond have teamed up to look after their interests, having done very well for themselves, when there are so many people in my part of Sydney for example, who are trying to buy a first home but cannot," he said.

Turnbull called Symond an authority on the property market at a recent forum in Sydney, the report in the Sydney Morning Herald said.

"As you've heard today from the Real Estate Institute, from John Symond - from Aussie John - that is going to have the impact of putting up rents and reducing the amount of rental property," he said.

A campaign against Labor's change by many of the country's most prominent real estate firms and Coalition supporters uses a website to warn of "disastrous consequences" if negative gearing is crimped.

"Our industry participants pride themselves on being apolitical, but this time, the issue is far too important not to speak out," it states.

Labor has announced it will limit negative gearing to new housing from 1 July 2017 as part of it tax overhaul.

Labor says negative gearing and the capital gains discount have not achieved their aim to boost housing supply and instead will cost the budget over $10 billion this year, more than what the government spends on higher education or child care. It also claims it mostly benefits the top income earners.


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