The Real Estate Institute of Australia says all levels of government need to take responsibility for housing affordability restricting first home buyers from entering the property market.

REIA CEO Amanda Lynch has told the Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into Affordable Housing that first homebuyer participation is reaching record lows.

“We have seen home ownership in Australia fall and first home buyer numbers at near historic lows. Governments at all levels must address structural factors that reduce the responsiveness of supply to demand. Projections from REIA’s recent roundtable at Parliament House showed the cumulative housing shortage is likely to increase from 100,000 dwellings in 2006 to 375,000 in 2015,” Lynch said.

Aside from the financial benefits, Lynch stressed the importance of the social benefits that come with home ownership.

“Studies have found that the stability associated with home ownership ultimately contributes to positive social outcomes, such as improved education levels for children, better mental and physical health, and greater social connectedness and participation in local community and voluntary organisations," she said.

Recommendations by REIA to address housing affordability include:

  • all states and territories recommit to the intergovernmental agreement which states that assistance to first home buyers should be across the board for new and established homes
  • the Commonwealth Government assess the various international schemes that assist first home buyers, including the release of superannuation, and replicate those successes in Australia
  • negative gearing be retained in its current form for the purpose of property investment to underpin the viability of the rental sector
  • conveyance stamp duties be abolished and replaced by an efficient source of revenue for states and territories