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It's Time To Help First-Home Buyers Rather Than Cashed-Up Investors

We will help where the Federal Government won't.

06/03/2017 5:42 AM AEDT | Updated 06/03/2017 5:50 AM AEDT
Andrew Meares
"These are changes that won’t be popular with everyone. But when it’s a choice between helping ordinary home owners or cashed-up investors, I know whose side I’m on."

In my first year out of high school, you could buy a house for under $100,000. Those days are over.

Just last week, we saw the median price for a three-bedroom home in metropolitan Melbourne tip over $650,000.

It means that for first-home buyers, particularly young first-home buyers, it just keeps getting harder.

The data says the same. Home ownership rates for those under the age of 35 have dropped by more than 20 percent in the past 30 years.

Now, not only are first-home buyers facing higher prices, they're competing with investors and their extensive portfolios too.

They're up against Federal Government policies like negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions, which stack the deck in favour of people who already own a home.

At the same time, they're facing rising rent that makes saving for a home deposit a real struggle.

But it's not just a problem in Victoria -- this is happening all over Australia. It's a national problem and it deserves a national solution.

I'm not going to waste words complaining about the Federal Government's lack of action on housing affordability. I'll just say this: we'll help where they won't.

It begins with abolishing stamp duty for first-home buyers.

But it's not just a problem in Victoria -- this is happening all over Australia. It's a national problem and it deserves a national solution.

For new or existing properties under $600,000, they won't pay anything at all. Those buying a home between $600,000 and $750,000 will also be eligible for a concession.

It will give around 25,000 first-home buyers more money to put towards the purchase. For a first-home buyer purchasing an established home for $575,000, they'll save $14,785. On a $650,000 home, it'll be a saving of $22,700.

For thousands of buyers, it'll be the difference that means they can finally find their home.

We're also doubling the First Home Owner Grant in regional Victoria. The increase -- from $10,000 to $20,000 -- will help around 6000 Victorians.

It will increase the supply of homes and boost local jobs. And for young people in regional Victoria, it will provide even more reason to buy and live locally.

We're also helping people looking to buy in Melbourne, rezoning 100,000 new lots. Located across the city's growth areas, it'll give first-home buyers even more choice. Importantly though, we're not making these changes in a vacuum.

It will mean owners who unreasonably leave their properties empty for long periods of time will now face a penalty. These are changes that won't be popular with everyone.

We're also planning the services and infrastructure -- the jobs, schools, hospitals, public transport and roads -- each of these communities will need.

At the same time, we're making the necessary tax changes to help tilt the scales back towards home owners. We're removing off-the-plan stamp duty concessions for investment properties and addressing the high number of properties being left empty by investors.

It will mean owners who unreasonably leave their properties empty for long periods of time will now face a penalty.

These are changes that won't be popular with everyone. But when it's a choice between helping ordinary home owners or cashed-up investors, I know whose side I'm on.

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HuffPost Australia's housing affordability blog series, The Great Australian Nightmare, begins tomorrow. Everyone from senior government figures to first-home buyers will have their say on one of the most pressing issues facing the nation.

If you'd like to submit a blog, send a 500-800 word piece to blogteam@huffingtonpost.com.au.

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