House Prices in Australia

From the IMF’s latest report on Australia:

“The fast increase in housing prices since mid-2019 has partly undone earlier price declines. As such, despite lower mortgage rates, there has only been a limited improvement in housing affordability for many households since the peak in housing prices in 2017.

Staff’s Views

Housing supply reforms are critical for restoring affordability. More efficient long-term planning, zoning, and local government reforms that promote housing supply growth, along with a focus on infrastructure development, remain critical to meet the needs of a growing urban population. Initiatives such as “City and Regional Deals” that aim to integrate transport, housing and land use polices to create the opportunity for coordinated action to maximize the value of infrastructure investment, should help meet growing demand for housing.

Broader tax reforms could reinforce the effectiveness of supply-side measures. Transitioning from a housing transfer stamp duty to a general land tax would improve efficiency by easing entry into the housing market and promoting labor mobility, while providing a more stable revenue source for the states. Such reforms could be complemented by reducing structural incentives for leveraged investment by households, including limiting negative gearing in residential real estate. Nonetheless, major changes affecting investment decisions and underlying demand for housing should be gradual, and such reforms should not be undertaken in isolation. In addition, housing policy measures discriminating against nonresidential buyers, such as state-level foreign purchaser duty surcharges on residential property, should be replaced by alternative, non-discriminatory measures, such as a general surcharge on vacant property or surcharges on all investor-owned housing transactions.

Authorities’ Views

The authorities saw potential risks linked to a possible reemergence of rapid housing price growth. With population growth projected to remain strong, the ongoing weakness in building approvals following the past decline in housing prices and tighter credit supply for developers could result in a shortage of new housing and renewed rapid housing price growth, with the risk that this would, in turn, lead to stronger growth in household debt.

The authorities stressed that they would continue to facilitate housing supply reforms and other measures to improve housing affordability. They highlighted that the Commonwealth government provides annual housing-related funding such as rental subsidy for individuals through the Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), funding to states and territories to improve Australians’ access to affordable housing through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA), and the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to provide loan guarantee to lenders for first-time home buyers. Housing has also been a priority in the City and Regional Deals. The authorities thought that tax policy was not the right tool to address potential speculative behavior in housing markets, as negative gearing applies across investments and investments in residential housing are relatively highly taxed, and that macroprudential policy should instead be employed as needed.”


Posted by at 5:39 PM

Labels: Global Housing Watch


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