In his opening statement to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics Inquiry into Foreign Investment in Residential Real Estate on Friday, RBA assistant governor Christopher Kent prefaced his recommendation by stating that FIRB's main role is to ensure foreign purchases are consistent with the rules, rather than to provide data on the actual level of foreign investment.
“Even so, a case could be made for more timely provision of the approvals data that are already collected by FIRB, perhaps publishing them on a quarterly rather than annual basis,” Mr Kent said.
“Also, more granular data could be provided, such as the number of approvals within broad price brackets rather than just the total value and number of approvals,” he said.
“Beyond that, the benefits of any new reporting requirements in this area should be weighed carefully against the costs of its collection and administration.”
Mr Kent said that while it seems likely that foreign residential purchases have added to net housing demand in Australia, there is no way of knowing the exact extent to which this has been the case.
He added that the information available suggests that foreign residential purchases have probably not had a large direct effect on the price of housing that is typically purchased by first home buyers.
“In the main, foreign buyers appear to be purchasing properties that are typically quite different in their characteristics from those purchased by most first home buyers,” he said.