While there are certainly many other issues in an election that stir passions and get the blood pumping at all points of the political spectrum, the vast space our great country affords us has allowed for home ownership to be a realistic goal for most, if not all citizens. As a result, the state of the Real Estate industry tends to sit at the forefront of most West Australians minds; middle-aged and older West Aussies are usually concerned with the value of their home, while the younger ones are keen to make sure they’re able to enjoy the same rite of passage as their parents and grandparents despite unique generational challenges (we’ll hold off on the avocado jokes this time!).
We hold onto these concerns even at the best of times, so it’s natural that come election time, the health of this industry and what we should or shouldn’t do in response to it is a strong campaigning point for all candidates. Even in the midst of COVID-19, we’ve seen our state continue a promising recovery that has finally renewed optimism in the market despite border closures and quarantine-affected businesses.
The past year has also seen a raft of unique issues both directly and indirectly related to the industry - The State and Federal building grants triggered a large land rush, along with what we hope is increased sales activity in the years to come, while vacancy rates have reached historic lows as a result of Perth’s enviable position in the COVID-19 global landscape, causing many sandgropers to return home. Homeowners, along with REIWA, are also counting down the days until the end of the COVID-19 Emergency Tenancy Legislation, which was enacted as a safety net to assist those most affected at the height of the COVID economic crisis so they can remain in their homes. However, it has been frequently argued throughout the year that the vast majority of tenants have either regained or retained employment, so they should be able to pay their rent. This in turn should hopefully assuage investors and achieve the increased sales activity we would normally see in response to a low vacancy rate, as they now have the comfort of knowing rent will be paid. Basically, the ball’s in the governments court!
Another Real Estate talking point that’s done the rounds lately, and is seen by many as a potential key to increased sales activity, is the ever-debated stamp duty. While most Australians aren’t particularly fond of ‘extra’ taxes to begin with, stamp duty can be especially jarring, as it’s often the difference between potential homeowners being able to get finance approved and starting their journey. Currently, there is a 75% stamp duty rebate for off-the-plan and under construction apartments. However, this legislation is set to end in October 2021 despite urgings from REIWA and the rest of the industry to formalise it. In addition to this, REIWA has also pushed the New South Wales stamp duty model as one to follow for our own reform; the main feature being the option for buyers to pay a small annual fee for the life of their ownership as opposed to a lump sum at the start.
Regardless of ones leanings, we think it’s pretty telling that despite the year we’ve just come out of, our industry remains one of the main talking points, and it’s easy to see why. The changes we’re after in our industry are often the same changes that make it easier for home owners and buyers to achieve their goals, so it pays to be on the same page!