One of the most critical problems facing this country – the growing divide between those with one or, increasingly commonly, many houses, and those who – even more increasingly – will never afford even one – proves completely resistant to the one means the government is prepared to use to restrain it:
New finance figures from the Bureau of Statistics show that while lending to buy homes in which to live slipped a seasonally adjusted 10 per cent in the first four months of this year, lending to real estate investors climbed 11 per cent.
In the past year, lending to investors surged an exceptional 30 per cent nationwide, and by an extraordinary 44 per cent in Victoria.
”These investors aren’t concerned about interest rates,” said BIS Shrapnel analyst Angie Zigomanis. ”They can see prices rising and real estate looks a safer bet than the stock market.”
Raising interest rates doesn’t hit the investors, it hits the home buyers, it hits the renters (to whom the landlords pass on the increased costs). If anything, it makes the problem worse.
We do need investors to build new homes, yes. But we desperately need to discourage them from gobbling up existing housing stock. And I’m yet to hear any serious plan to tackle this critical issue from any of the parties running this year.
UPDATE: Shill for the mining industry, Robert Gottliebsen, argues that the RSPT will lower house prices. Gottliebsen is out of touch enough to think that’s a bad thing, but the saddest news is that it’s predicated on the conservatives’ fundamental lie that taxing the vast majority of Australian business less by taxing the extremely profitable part of the mining sector more will somehow decimate the economy. Since that’s not true, young Australians will have to look elsewhere for some hope of one day owning their own home.