Recently announced Federal and State Government schemes and incentives appear to be focused on making housing more affordable for first home buyers, but they’re just playing the old three card trick on us.
Here’s what I mean…
Provide generous deposit saving initiatives, buyer grants and Stamp Duty exemptions to first home buyers.
More first home buyers can raise a home loan deposit, buy their first home and government gets the credit.
Why is this just a trick?
Rather than making housing more affordable, these deposit incentives do the opposite.
They increase demand by putting more first home buyers into the market and they give aspiring first home buyers the capacity to pay more for their homes.
This is because buyers don’t stump up the full price of a home purchase, only the deposit.
A $10,000 rise in deposit funds means that borrowers can suddenly afford to pay $50,000 to $100,000 more for a home, provided they can meet the repayments.
The result is that housing prices rise until a new deposit unaffordability limit is reached.
Government makes investors pay for these first home buyer schemes and incentives by introducing harsh taxes and imposts.
It was those nasty investors who caused the Sydney and Melbourne housing booms and now they must be punished, especially foreign investors, because they don’t even live (or vote) here.
Why is this also just a trick?
Making housing more unattractive for investors and attractive to owner occupiers will only lead to rent rises, because a reduction in the number of investor owned properties will create rental shortages and landlords will simply pass on any cost increases to tenants.
Higher rents will make it more difficult for aspiring first home buyers to raise the necessary deposit funds.
As if by magic, the median sale price for houses and units in Sydney and Melbourne starts to fall in the second half of 2017.
Our governments take a bow, take the credit and walk off the stage and toward the next election amid thunderous applause and thousands of votes.
Why is this another trick?
First home buyer housing prices tend to be lower than the median housing price in any city, so more first home buyer sales means more sales at the low end of the price range.
Because the median house or unit sale price is the middle point of all the sales in any month, the rise in lower priced sales causes a decline in the median sale price.
The tragic thing about all this is that housing prices are not falling at all, they just appear to be because the median price is falling.
Increased demand for first homes will more likely lead to a rise in first home buyer prices rather than a fall, but the misleading median price hides this from us.
The JOKER in the pack:
There’s a Joker in the pack which none of our politicians has mentioned.
Interest rates have been holding at generational lows for some years, and this is about to change.
Not only has the Federal Reserve indicated that rates are going to rise in the USA, but our own governments are hitting the banks with new taxes which will directly increase the cost of borrowing.
Not only will the cost of borrowing start to rise, but banks will have less to lend.
First home buyers borrow most of the cost of a home and are likely to be hit hardest when rate rise, just when they have committed to a new home and can barely meet the repayments.
A collapse in buyer demand could spread through all areas of the Sydney and Melbourne housing markets and lead to years of price stagnation.
Because the demand for accommodation will continue to rise along with our population, the demand for housing will shift to rentals which will rise dramatically as prices correct.
This pattern of price boom and bust followed by rent boom has occurred around every thirty years in our history – in the 1890s, 1930s, 1960s, and 1990s, and by playing the three-card trick rather than dealing with the real issues caused by continuing high demand and low supply in our major capital cities, our leaders are playing the wrong game.