Barely a day goes by in the media that there isn’t an article published discussing the challenges of the Australian housing market and how much prices have risen over recent years. The long held ‘Great Australian Dream’ of owning your own home is frequently trotted out to tug at the heart strings of TV viewers when trying to find a suitable scapegoat for sky high property prices. Throughout much of 2014, focus was being placed on foreign investors landing on our shores with suitcases full of money and pricing us locals out of the market. Currently the place for blame is on negative gearing. Whilst I’m happy to agree that negative gearing may have had some contribution to price rises, it’s important to take into account the huge amount for factors at play here. Although I’m no economist, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that the combination of negative gearing, foreign investment, historically low interest rates, ease of finance, ongoing agent under-quoting and the sense of urgency portrayed in the media all play a role. Not to mention the fact that almost 70% of Australians choose to live in capital cities and that there is only so much land available in these relatively tiny pockets of our enormous country. Geography and demographics certainly play a role.
Of course I’m biased…but while I do think that negative gearing has an important role to play in supporting investors and in turn the housing market in Australia, I agree with statements made regarding investors only investing in property simply for the tax advantages. To me, purely investing for the benefits of negative gearing is completely the wrong approach (although plenty do it). Following here are two videos worth a watch. The first is a clip from ‘The Project’ on Network 10 which aired last night and fired me up to write about this topic. Pay careful attention to the generalised statements and overall tone of the clip, it’s enough to make you go out and push the nearest property investor under a bus. The second clip by well known Australian property investing wunderkind Nathan Birch is intriguingly entitled Negative Gearing Sucks Balls. Nathan’s explanation about negative gearing and why people get caught out by it is spot on in my view. My thoughts? Negative gearing is a useful bonus for investors but certainly not a reason in itself to invest in property. Check out the clips below and make up your own mind!
So it’s federal budget night in Australia and there have been rumblings for some time now that the government might be looking to reform their negative gearing policy for property investors. The most frequent suggestion that I have heard is regarding the possibility of introducing grandfathering arrangements for current property investors whilst restricting any future negative gearing to newly constructed properties. Whilst this has the potential to save the government billions of dollars, there is still plenty of debate as to the flow-on effects that it might have. Whilst on one hand there are those stating that negative gearing has done nothing but escalate property prices for those wanting to purchase their own home (Check out the beer coasters here that encourage abolishing negative gearing), others view it as a key strategy in encouraging investment and maintaining a healthy supply of rental properties on the market. Time will tell after the budget announcement tonight and you can rest assured that whatever happens it won’t please everyone. Check out the links below to read some of the recent commentary on the potential impact on negative gearing in the 2014 budget. Stay tuned!
Negative gearing is on the chopping-block
Budget Night: What’s Going To Happen To Negative Gearing?
Following on from my post this week regarding the Grattan Institute Report on housing policy it’s not surprising that the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has responded quickly to the recommendations in the report. Published this week on the Your Investment Property website is the following article outlining the response from the REIA. Once again it’s always fascinating to see the debate it stirs up in the comments posted after the article. You can access the original article here, or, read below.
Hands Off Negative Gearing, Warns REIA
A report issued earlier this week slamming government housing policies has provoked a strong reaction from the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), which said a recommendation to scrap negative gearing is ‘short-sighted’.
The REIA said it agrees with the Grattan Institute Renovating Housing Policy report in that a major overhaul of housing policy in Australia is needed, but disagreed with what needs to be done.
“We strongly agree with the report’s recommendations to eliminate stamp duties, however it’s essential negative gearing be retained in its current form for the purpose of property investment,” said REIA president Peter Bushby
“REIA has always supported negative gearing because it helps in the provision of rental accommodation. Negative gearing for property investment is complementary to the goals of the Government’s Housing Affordability Fund (HAF) in addressing the supply of rental accommodation.”
Bushby said removing negative gearing would show that Australians ‘haven’t learnt anything from history’.
“When negative gearing was abolished in 1985 it had disastrous consequences for the property market and for people trying to rent. Rents rose 37% across Australia and by 57% in Sydney.
“Thankfully, negative gearing was reinstated in 1987. It is far too short-sighted to link investor interest in housing to negative gearing alone. Negative gearing is only one of a range of factors that contribute to the level of investment in property. Other factors include interest rates, availability and accessibility of finance, share market performance, the unemployment rate, housing supply and consumer confidence.”
Bushby said the ‘myth’ that negative gearing is a plaything of the well-heeled also needs to be dispelled. He claims the majority of taxpayers with negatively geared property earn less than $80,000 per annum.
“Findings in the Renovating Housing Policy report are important and let’s hope they assist in kick-starting a debate on housing policy. With the new government, expectations that industry will be involved in finding workable solutions to these old issues are high.”