Housing policies important with voters

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A recent poll showed that housing affordability was one of the most important issues for all Australians.

While we are currently enjoying historically-low interest rates, which means that housing affordability is generally better than it has been for some time, this will not last forever.

And as our property market finally churns into gear, it is likely that we will start to experience rising property prices in the year ahead which will ultimately impact housing affordability.

As the former president of the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) and the REIQ’s representative to our national body, it is vitally important that the major parties reveal their housing policies as part of the Federal Election campaign. It is imperative they show how they are going to address affordability and supply challenges before the election.

Home ownership is declining after three decades of stable levels and first home buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to enter the market, despite the interest rate cuts, due to the removal of the standard First Home Owners Grant in Queensland.

Of course, housing is a complex issue with a number of economic, social and infrastructure factors determining affordability but the REIQ and the REIA want to see the major parties commit to taking a leadership role in developing a coordinated and strategic approach to housing, including complementary policies covering first home buyers and taxation reform.

A recent Auspoll found housing to be the number one issue amongst voters and the recent Genworth Homebuyer Confidence Index found that 70 per cent of non-property owners think that the Australian dream of homeownership is unrealistic.

Together with the REIA, the REIQ would like to see a review process to be established that requires regular reporting against a number of key indicators and highlights any emerging issues for policy and decision makers across all tiers of government and industry.

The availability of affordable housing is a goal that is shared by governments and all sectors of the community, yet at the national level there is not a comprehensive policy or plan for its achievement.

This impacts on the functioning of the economy as well as the wellbeing of individuals and the cohesiveness of communities and society. The REIQ and the REIA are ready and able to participate in a national dialogue on the crucial issues.

By REIQ chairman Pamela Bennett