Australian governments have poured more than $20bn into supporting first-home buyers in the past decade, the cornerstone of “one-sided” housing policies that set the country apart from more balanced policies abroad, a new study has found.
The paper, published on Thursday by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, compared Australia’s policies with those in six European nations and Singapore. The researchers found local schemes have failed to arrest a slide in overall home ownership and benefitted those already in the market, worsening social equity.
“We’re now in the situation where there really is quite a gap,” Chris Martin, a senior research fellow in UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre, and one of the report’s authors. “Home ownership has become this widening wedge of inequality.”
The $20.5bn spent by governments in the decade to 2021 to support first-time owners included stamp-duty concessions and cash grants such as the HomeBuilder scheme. That money could instead have funded about 60,000 social housing dwellings or more than double that if used in shared-equity investments, 报告说.
Those giveaways were much larger “than most of the other countries we looked at”, Martin said. Other nations studied included Ireland, 英国, Germany and the Netherlands. The schemes “mostly assist first-home vendors”, 他说.
Access to housing was one point of difference between the major parties at the federal election. Labor promoted a scheme in which the government would share in the equity of homes, the Coalition championed allowing people to tap into their superannuation, while the Greens offered to build 1m homes [object Window] 20 年.
The housing report found Australian governments previously had broader policies that supported both demand and supply. Over time though, the offerings have been whittled back to mostly favour buyers – or those who already own a home.
“Over the past 30 年, in tune with the dominant neoliberal mode of governance, the focus has shifted almost entirely to demand-side assistance,“ 它说.
“Because [the policies] enable a marginal first-home buyer to outbid others and set a new higher price in the market, they fundamentally increase house prices,“ 它说. “By comparison with some comparator countries, Australia’s approach is extremely one-sided.”
The report said Germany, ” 瑞士, the Netherlands and Singapore all play a major role in the supply and development of land, while noting that “Australian bodies nowadays lack the authority to pursue such a role on any scale”, unlike in the past.
Labor’s 2016 和 2019 election promise to halve negative gearing deductions for investors and limit it to new homes was at least an effort to restrain demand that might have created more space for first-time entrants. Such policies are absent now.
“There are lots of things that our economy needs to become more resilient and more productive,” Martin said. “Instead we’ve got policy settings that keep giving people this signal: if they’ve got money to spare or if they’ve got credit, spend it on housing.”
What is missing, the report underscores, is the lack of coherence among housing plans in Australia.
“In Singapore and other comparator countries, including Canada, Ireland and England, home-ownership policy – including FHB assistance – is to some extent framed within broader national housing strategies,“ 它说. “Since it lacks any equivalent overarching framework, Australia is out of step here.”
States have also added to the federal spending, lifting the annual value of tax expenditures aimed at first-home buyers by threefold to $2.2bn a year in the four years to 2020. “The benefit per homebuyer averaged over $16,000 in both NSW and Victoria – as compared with $4,000 在英国,”报道称.
As a share of total property transactions, first-home buying averaged about a fifth of overall activity over the past decade, rising and falling on “time-limited boosts”.
With rising property prices, purchases are also shifting from houses to flats in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, 特别是. Parents, 也, are increasingly chipping in.
“In these cities, between the early 2000s and the late 2010s, parental cash transfers coinciding with home purchase nearly doubled to 15%, while receipt of ‘non-bank loans’ also increased in frequency,”报道称. “Similarly, first-home ownership involving apartment (rather than house) purchase nearly doubled to 27% over the same period.”
Even with that shift from houses and tapping the so-called “Bank of Mum and Dad”, young adults are still finding it harder to enter the property market.
“The proportion of the 25–34 age cohort owning their own home declined from 60% in 1988–89 to only 40% in 2015–16,” the report said. ”Among young adults and every other pre-retirement age group, home-ownership rates have fallen most substantially for lower-income households, thus exacerbating wealth inequality.”
Martin said Australia had to find a way to break the pattern of providing grants that tend to lift prices and bring forward property purchases of “a lucky few”.
“For those that miss out, they see their own opportunity receding that much further,“ 他说. “The pattern then has been we do another round of boosting or additional support, and more money goes to helping first-home buyers.”