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Mortgage industry on the election outcome

With Anthony Albanese and several cabinet ministers sworn in following Labor’s election win, members of the mortgage and property industry have set out what they’re hoping to see from the Albanese government.

On Monday (23 May), the leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), Anthony Albanese, was sworn in as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia, alongside four frontbenchers, following the Labor Party’s election win.

As well as a new Prime Minister, Australia now has a new Treasurer – in the form of Jim Chalmers (replacing former treasurer Josh Frydenberg)  as well as a new Finance Minister, Katy Gallagher (replacing former minister for finance, Simon Birmingham) and a new Foreign Minister, Penny Wong (replacing Marise Payne).

The former deputy leader of the opposition, Richard Marles, has also now been sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister (a role previously held by Barnaby Joyce).

With the first senior officials now sworn in, members of the broking industry have tentatively welcomed the new government, with players from the mortgage and property industry also setting out what they’re hoping to see from the Albanese government on housing.

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Megan Keleher, chief customer officer at Great Southern Bank, welcomed the ALP’s initiatives that “help Australians to own their own home” given that saving for a deposit “is the biggest challenge faced by first homebuyers”. 

“The Help to Buy shared equity scheme will provide another pathway for some homebuyers to overcome this challenge,” she said, noting that the bank already has been involved in a similar initiative rolled out by the Victorian government’s Buy Assist shared equity scheme. 

“We are pleased this scheme could enable homebuyers in other states to also benefit from being able to buy a home with a smaller deposit.

Ms Keleher continued: “Great Southern Bank supports improving housing affordability. We look forward to the creation of the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council, as we see every day how housing affordability presents a challenge to would-be homebuyers.”

More on housing supply

However, Eleanor Creagh, senior economist at PropTrack in the REA Group (the parent company of Mortgage Choice) suggested that Labor’s policy commitment of providing 40 per cent government equity for 10,000 first home buyers earning up to $90,000 is “a demand side incentive likely to place upward pressure on prices”.  

“The scheme is more generous, but eligibility is constrained by the means test and there are caps on the property value, as well as being just 10,000 places a year,” she said.  

“Both are band aid fixes not without drawbacks, increasing or bringing forward demand for housing without increasing supply to match.

“The only long-term solution to housing affordability is to build more of the right homes in the places where people want to live.  

“And what is missing from the policies of both major parties is a serious plan to reform state and local government planning systems and to increase the supply of homes to improve affordability. 

“Any demand-side incentives should be tied to unlocking land, improving planning system efficiencies, and boosting new supply. A critical lack of rental supply, already pushing rents ever higher in some regions, makes these issues even more significant for those who are not yet homeowners. 

“Other reforms centered around removing inefficient tax and transfer barriers could help improve affordability in the long run.

“For example, were state governments to replace stamp duty with an annual land tax, existing stock may be better utilised. But housing supply is the key constraint in the long run that no government has sought to meaningfully rectify.”

Those representing the property industry also weighed in, with the Property Council of Australia’s chief executive Ken Morrison stating: “We have worked closely with Mr Albanese and his senior colleagues in opposition and government over many years and we know the experience they bring to their future roles. 

“The property industry employs 1.4 million Australians, shapes the future of our cities and provides the housing our growing communities need. 

“We look forward to working with an Albanese Government on the pressing issues of housing affordability, addressing the skills challenges facing business and helping our cities and suburbs thrive.”

He also thanked the outgoing Prime Minister and his government for “their service to the nation, particularly in dealing with the immense challenges of the global pandemic”.

Similarly, the president of the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), Hayden Groves, said: “We applaud the commitment to develop a National Housing and Homelessness Plan which is badly needed as well as the innovative solutions to unlock supply. 

“An evidence-based approach to a National Supply and Affordability Council with the right objective experts – including real estate practitioners – should provide a proper annual benchmark for Australia’s supply crunch.” 

The Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) particularly welcomed the party’s commitments to tackle “systemic housing unaffordability across Australia” and improve social housing”.

Wendy Hayhurst, CHIA’s CEO, applauded the party’s Australian Housing Future Fund to invest in 30,000 new social and affordable dwellings, highlighting that public and community housing has grown by only 4 per cent over the past 25 years while the population has increased by 30 per cent.

“That’s why we also strongly welcome the institutional reforms in the ALP’s housing platform. The housing plan, the proposed Housing Supply and Affordability Council and the new national housing agency – Housing Australia – aren’t made for a media sound bite. But together they should provide the necessary foundation for a serious effort to tackle our national housing affordability problem,” she said

“This is a long-term project that requires a non-partisan approach to delivery.”

The chair of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA), Nicola McDougall, said the incoming Labor government must prioritise the current rental property “crisis”, noting that supply of rental properties is at record lows around the nation, with the situation set to worsen due to softer market conditions and rising interest rates.

“Investors have been mostly missing from the property market since well before the last Federal Election, predominantly due to nationwide investment lending restrictions, but also because of the political posturing on negative gearing during the last election campaign,” Ms McDougall said.

“With markets cooling and interest rates rising it is likely that investors will retreat from the market once more, which will further exacerbate the financial pain that tenants are experiencing…

“With overseas migration set to soar over coming years, where are these new Aussies going to live if we don’t even have enough rental properties to house our  current population?

“A system needs to be developed to encourage the private and public sectors to work collaboratively together to increase rental supply and to improve rental  affordability for tenants.” 

[Related: Election 2022: What’s next for housing?]

Mortgage industry on the election outcome
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