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REISA: housing affordability discussion always welcome

31 Jul 14


Senator Nick Xenophon’s plan to introduce legislative changes in the spring session of parliament to allow first home buyers to access their superannuation savings to pay a house deposit has been welcomed by the Real Estate Institute of South Australia. 

Such a scheme successfully operates in Canada, called Home Buyers’ Plan and where $25,000 can be accessed for a first home. The result has been improved housing affordability. 

A Senate Economics References Committee hearing in Adelaide yesterday heard from HomeStart Finance – an arm of the South Australian Government – outline the Canadian scheme. 

Senator Xenophon will be moving for changes to the Superannuation Act to allow the release to superannuation funds for a first home, with similar safeguards to the Canadian scheme, which calls for the amount to be paid back into the fund within 15 years. 

“With more and more Australians finding it difficult to break into home ownership, adopting the Canadian scheme would make a difference to many thousands of Australians each year,” he said. 

“As HomeStart Finance said, there’s something strange about being able to access your super fund if you are about to default on your housing loan, but you can’t access it to put a deposit on a home in the first place.” 

REISA chief executive Greg Troughton said discussion surrounding housing affordability was always welcome, although he added that Senator Xenophon’s idea was not entirely new. 

“Accessing your superannuation for a first home is not a new idea but certainly one that should be discussed and looked at,” he said. 

“REISA is certainly supportive of any constructive proposal that will allow more South Australians to realise their dream of owning their own home. 

“Whether it be abolishing property taxes, providing concessions for first home buyers or allowing access to superannuation, housing affordability must be at the top of every government’s agenda.” 

An annual affordability survey by Demographia this year found Australia had the second-worst housing affordability in the world, behind Hong Kong. 

All 39 Australian housing markets surveyed were “seriously” or “severely” unaffordable, defined as having average house prices more than four times average income.