Finance advice
Should there be financial penalties on unoccupied dwellings?

Should there be financial penalties on unoccupied dwellings?

By Douglas Driscoll

The high level of developments in Sydney have presented a smorgasbord of choice for offshore buyers, given non-residents can only purchase new or off-the-plan properties.

I believe that a percentage of dwellings within all new developments should be sold to Australian residents and even further, a percentage or better incentive to first home buyers. I am thrilled to see property developers taking note and introducing initiatives to help first home buyers, and make property buying more attractive. Mirvac recently announced it will offer 60 of its most affordable apartments at its new development in Sydney Olympic Park exclusively to first home buyers, as well as allow them to purchase with a five per cent deposit[1].

While first home buyers are struggling to get their foot on the ladder, second- and third-time buyers are often overlooked as they are also finding it hard to take the next step up on the ladder with the current level of competition amongst non-resident buyers, particularly given Sydney now has more suburbs with properties at a median value of $2 million than it has suburbs with properties under a median value of $600,000[2].

While residents struggle to purchase, offshore buyers have properties lying dormant. Investors don’t get capital gains tax concessions if the property is uninhabited for more than 12 months, which is a good start, but what about non-residents? I think the government should introduce significant financial penalties or inordinate property taxes for any property owned by a non-resident that is known to be empty for more than 12 months – to put unoccupied properties back on the market for residents to purchase or rent.

Holiday homes aren’t the problem here, because quite often they are located in regional areas outside of our metropolitan cities most affected by the affordability crisis: Sydney, Melbourne and, to a less extent, Brisbane. Offshore buyers purchase property in our metropolitan areas because they are perceived as high growth areas, but also because we have the highest living space per capita than anywhere else in the world.

We are an appealing and desirable location for many reasons, but the fact that we have larger homes certainly represents good value to foreign investors. On average, an Australian home has 89 square metres of floor space, while a country like China has about 33 square metres of space[3], for example. While Australia clearly doesn’t have the same population size as China, Sydney is quickly growing, with an estimated population size of almost 10 million expected by 2036. To meet this, we will need more than 700,000 new dwellings and detached dwellings are going to become a rarity because Sydney can’t grow too much more outwards without improved infrastructure to make commuting to central business districts achievable. Currently, the only way forward is upwards.

Recent data from CoreLogic revealed investor mortgage demand is showing no signs of cooling, with the value of monthly investor mortgage lending in NSW higher than any other part of Australia, at $6.8 billion (in December 2016). When you look at this on a national level, NSW accounts for half (49.6 per cent) of all investor mortgage finance[4]. Such a strong level of investor interest in Sydney is pushing up the price of our dwellings and it’s time for government intervention to reduce this.

I’m certainly not against foreign investment or property investment as a whole, but I do believe it has led to the market becoming hugely out of kilter, causing a multitude of social and economic issues. We need a thorough review on this because the social divide will only continue to grow. Almost $7 trillion of our entire economy is related to real estate, and while I acknowledge that foreign and local investment has played a pivotal role, it shouldn’t be at the expense of the everyday Australian. It should remain the right of all Australians to acquire property as part of a wealth creation strategy, but not at the detriment of owner-occupiers; so property investment might need to be reined in with new regulation and restrictions. I truly don’t believe we would be so deep in a housing affordability crisis if we had this under control.

Elsewhere in the world, there is mounting pressure on other governments to tackle housing affordability. The UK is seeing an almost vigilante-type movement in the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, who are attempting to take matters into their own hands because they believe the government is idly sitting back.

[1] News Corp, 2017.
[2] CoreLogic, 2017.
[3] Rate City, 2014.
[4] CoreLogic, 2017.

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About the Blogger

Douglas Driscoll

Douglas Driscoll

Douglas Driscoll is CEO of Starr Partners; winners of the Innovation category at the recent Australian Real Estate Awards. Originally from the UK, Douglas is widely regarded as one of the industry’s preeminent thought leaders, and is lauded for his dynamic and pioneering approach.

FROM THE WEB

podcast

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With the softening market impacting property values in many parts of Australia, Sally Dale, Opteon state director for NSW, ACT and Qld joins us to discuss the importance of valuations in the current property market

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Joining host Phil Tarrant, Sally will draw on her 25 years of experience in valuation and discuss the processes involved in arriving at a value for a particular property. She will also share how that process differs between commercial and residential properties and the difficulties which regional property valuations can present.

Sally will unpack the importance and cost of regular valuations on your properties, discuss whether presentation and owner input can sway a valuation and share what you should look for when seeking a reputable property valuer.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Sydney
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A softening market can be a difficult time for a property investor with finance approval tightening and property capital growth slowing, and while many real estate agents are also feeling the squeeze McGrath Brighton Le Sands' Bill Tsounias claims it is simply the market returning to normal.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Bill joins host Phil Tarrant to share his thoughts on the current Sydney property market, and to share the shifts that he has seen in house and unit sale prices following their worst quarter in the past decade.

Bill will unpack why properties are spending longer on market, share what he believes property investors are doing wrong when trying to sell their properties and share the secrets to getting the best out of a real estate agent and an auction in the current softening market.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Gavin Kemp and his now-fiancé bought their first property together after only six months of dating. They weren’t even living together at the time. Now, two years on, the pair have bought five properties, sold two and have a solid plan in place for their ongoing property journey. 

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Gavin joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss how he chose the locations where he decided to invest and how, due to the initial lack of education (something that he now values highly), he lost money on his first two investments.

Gavin will share his thoughts on the current property market, reveal the people who he has leaned on throughout his property journey and discuss why his strategy employs a zero procrastination rule.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Launceston
Raceview

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A joint property portfolio before they were even living together

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