Mortgage Choice chief executive, John Flavell
has serious questions about the parliamentary inquiry the federal government is conducting into Home Ownership, which starts tomorrow in Canberra.
While Mortgage Choice supports any initiative that seeks to address key issues in the property market, it does question the purpose of this particular inquiry.
According to Flavell, the terms of reference for the inquiry suggest it is another case of political grandstanding.
“Mortgage Choice supports anything that seeks to address some of the key issues affecting many Australians, like housing affordability. We believe anything that is done to help improve housing affordability and make it easier for people, particularly first home buyers, to purchase property should be applauded. That said, we seriously question the purpose of the government’s upcoming inquiry into Home Ownership,” he said.
“The vague terms of reference that have been released to the public suggest this inquiry is another case of political grandstanding. Topics the inquiry will cover – from ‘demand and supply drivers’ in the property market to the ‘impact of current tax policies’ – are a constant point of discussion in the community and covered by media most days of the week.”
Flavell says the industry has not even been briefed on any specific objectives of the inquiry.
“This is disappointing to say the least, as industry can help make recommendations that are not only realistic, but affect positive change.”
Despite record low interest rates, housing affordability continues to be an enormous barrier for many Australians trying to get their foot on the property ladder, says Flavell, so the government needs to stop grandstanding and act on removing these barriers.
“At present, government policies, like stamp duty, are inhibiting prospective buyers as they are failing to keep pace with the market. The cost of stamp duty has soared by almost 800% across many of our states over the past two decades,” he said.
“In New South Wales, stamp duty costs have soared 749% in the last 20 years. At the same time, the median house price has also soared, but the exemptions provided to first home buyers have not been reviewed.
“NSW first home buyers are provided with a stamp duty exemption on properties under $550,000. But, given that the median property price in Sydney is $752,000, it is fair to assume that a lot of first home buyers are missing out on this exemption altogether.
“The time has come for reform in the housing market. At Mortgage Choice we don’t want band-aid solutions, we want real solutions and those must start with the government. We need our government to engage industry and have true and frank discussions about what can be done to help more Australians – particularly first home buyers – achieve their dream of home ownership.”