Govt urged to act on housing affordability

One of Australia’s biggest mortgage brokers wants the federal government to do more to improve housing affordability as the average home loan outstrips wage growth.


Mortgage Choice chief executive John Flavell says the government could help first home buyers by letting them accessing their superannuation earlier and reintroducing the recently abolished first home savers account.

His calls come after recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data revealed the average home loan grew nearly four times faster than the average wage.

The average home loan rose 18.5 per cent to $357,00 in the past two years, while wages rose a mere 3.6 per cent to $80,000 in comparison.

Mr Flavell said government inaction could make the situation worse.

“They have a lot of levers to pull in relation to affordability such as increasing housing supply and examining credit costs but I don’t see any levers being pulled,” he told AAP.

A spokesman for Treasurer Joe Hockey said the government had already acted to help people get on the housing ladder.

It had strengthened the rules around foreign investment in real estate in addition to establishing an inter-state taskforce led by the Victorian Treasurer, he said.

The calls by Mortgage Choice come as first home buyers struggle with soaring prices in the booming real estate markets of Sydney and Melbourne.

Sydney property values have risen by 16.2 per cent in the past year, with Melbourne up 10.2 per cent.

Mr Flavell also criticised the current parliamentary inquiry into home ownership, saying that it was wrong to exclude consumers on the first day of public hearings in June.

“Witnesses in the public hearing were exclusively employees of government departments, consumer voices were not heard and their opinions were not sought,” he said.

“This suggests these inquiries are designed to allow a lot of political grandstanding and not a lot of action.”

Mr Flavell said despite a similar inquiry conducted in 2004, little had changed except a decline in home ownership and an increase in private rental numbers.

He credited the growing unavailability of public housing for pushing up the proportion of private renters, with more people being driven into unaffordable rental properties.

Treasury acting deputy secretary Jenny Wilkinson acknowledged during the inquiry’s initial public hearing in June that demand for housing continued to outpace supply across Australia.

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