Stamping Out Housing Affordability

Posted by Unknown on Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From the desk of Leah Calnan, Director Metro Property Management...

A collegue of ours Adam Watts (of Lifetime Financial Group) has written the below article that appears on ‘The Weekly Review’ website (a popular website and magazine in Melbourne). I thought you may enjoy this interesting read in regards to the excessive Stamp Duties Victorians in particular are forced to pay....

By Adam Watts (LifeTime Financial Group), 3/11/10

Why is it that we have all accepted excessive stamp duty on Victorian property? If you compare stamp duties across Australia, and even between countries, you will start to question the exorbitant cost.

Generally, in day-to-day life, you get what you pay for when it comes to the quality or quantity of goods and services. No such logic applies to the application of stamp duty. As Victorians, we are paying higher stamp duty than almost all states and this, combined with an already high and climbing median property price for Melbourne, adds up.

Let’s look at duties across the states.

Considering a $500,000 property price, the following stamp-duty costs would apply:

Northern Territory $23,928

Victoria $21,970

South Australia $21,330

Australian Capital Territory $20,500

New South Wales $17,990

Western Australia $17,765

Queensland $8750


So what is Victoria doing with these extra and rising proceeds?

Excessive duties are particularly being felt by younger generations as they attempt to save a house deposit. With banks and other non-banking financial institutions increasing deposit requirements, largely thanks to the global financial crisis, individual property deposit savings have been struggling to keep pace with rising property prices and the associated rising stamp duty.

Higher bank deposit requirements, coupled with flat household income trends – again an outcome of an economic correction – have made it almost impossible for first-time buyers to enter the property market without compromising on size or location.

Today’s reality is that the median property price in affluent Melbourne suburbs is now incurring more than $100,000 of stamp duty for house or investment purchases.

As at June 30, stamp-duty costs on the five most expensive Melbourne suburbs, as per their median price for the quarter, included:

Toorak $114,400

Brighton $93,500

Kew $87,480

Balwyn $82,500

Elwood $78,925

(Source: Herald Sun 18/09/2010)

Stamp-duty costs, even on Melbourne’s median property price at June 30, was near to $30,000. Understanding this cost, how long do you think it actually takes the average Melbourne worker to save $30,000 after tax? I don’t believe this research has been carried out yet, but I would imagine the answer would be “a very long time”.

It is no surprise that households are buying up outer-Melbourne house-and-land packages. Properties are simply more affordable, with the ability to take advantage of additional first-home-buyer government incentives on newly constructed houses.

However, this could be causing an undesired demographic change of young couples and young families moving from the city and its infrastructure and amenities, which may not be as well supplied in and around outer-Melbourne housing estates.

Furthermore, if housing affordability and its associated costs don’t improve in Melbourne, we may also see a migration of residents to other cities or other, more-affordable states.

Why am I so passionate about this financial issue? Not only is it an issue for my younger clients, I have started to contemplate how my son, Oliver, will ever be able to afford inner-suburban housing? Some parents seem to be planning and have invested in or intend to invest in properties (apartments) for the benefit of, and an option for, their children when they eventually move out of the family house.

In addition to viewing it as an investment with tax benefits, maybe these parents also have an ulterior motive – ensuring their children don’t move too far from mum and dad.

So at what point and at what price does the Victorian Government say “we’re charging too much?” If it is not going to reduce its cost, when does it start giving some value back to house buyers with additional facilities and services?

The system needs to improve, because if it doesn’t, we may well be naming our children’s generation as the “renting generation”.

Adam is a Financial Planner for LifeTime Financial

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