Key measures to improve housing affordability

It has been the goal that has motivated generations of Australians workers – owning a home. But unprecedented price growth and pockets of undersupply has made this almost an impossibility in certain markets. Even with prices moderating in some key markets and regional centres, families and young couples are still struggling to find an affordable home. But there are some strategies that could assist in their quest.

Reform and diversify

The `Great Australian Dream’ no longer means a freestanding home with backyard. Today, it can mean a townhouse or apartment. Governments and developers are now recognising the importance of well-designed high density living in proximity to transport and retail hubs. But more reform could see smaller more flexible floorplans, resulting in even cheaper homes.

Planning restrictions like SEPP65 guidelines in Sydney may have merit for ensuring quality design guidelines, but they limit the construction of smaller studio style apartments.

Banks still feel more comfortable with lending for larger properties which is problematic for first home buyers and low-income workers looking for an affordable entry point into the market. Allocating dwellings for social housing is important. Our neighbourhoods need a broad socioeconomic mix that caters for low to middle income workers. Sustainable communities need teachers, police officers, nurses and other emergency services workers who can afford to live close to where they work.

More construction

Building more properties may seem like the obvious solution to housing affordability, but it is not as easy as it seems. We need to make sure that whatever is being constructed is affordable to owner-occupiers, not just investors. We are already seeing an increase in the supply of apartments in key capital markets and time will tell whether those developments eventually meet market demands. Location, good design and access to open spaces are essential in ensuring an apartment project will have appeal and retain value. Lifting restrictions on subdividing suburban blocks could unlock unused land which could help to ease affordability. Likewise, group suburban sales close to transport links could provide developers with more land that could be better designed for future generations with higher densities.

Land banking – whereby owners opt to leave a parcel untouched in the plan to simply gain future growth, rather than building dwellings – also creates a strain on housing supply. Concessions on infrastructure charges, rebates and other incentives which make it financially attractive to activate sites for housing supply are possible measures to limit the appeal of land banking.

Incentives for baby boomer dwellings

A survey of 800 people aged over 50 jointly undertaken by LJ Hooker, and found only 10 percent of respondents intended to live out their lives in the family home. The Government’s non-concessional contribution into superannuation is an attractive incentive to entice Baby boomers to sell the family home. But even though there’s an overwhelming willingness to move into something more manageable, many despair they’re unable to downsize within their local community, where they have friends, family and long-standing connections, because of the suitability of housing. Incredibly, 89 percent of respondents in the aforementioned survey indicated having one or more spare bedrooms in their dwelling. If developers were encouraged to provide suitable, pre-aged care housing options for baby boomers, more family homes could be freed up for their intended purpose.


A high-speed rail network linking regional areas to capital cities has always seemed futuristic but could it be much closer than ever thought.

The Federal Government – under its `Faster Rail Prospectus’ – is currently funding the investigation of three routes that could slash travel times. Among them, a proposal by the Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA) to build a fast train line from Melbourne to Greater Shepparton that could reduce the journey to just 30 minutes. An upgrade of the existing Sydney to Newcastle rail is also being considered with the aim of reducing travel time by an hour and a three-stage project to improve rail travel from Brisbane to both Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast. And there is more potential to be unlocked around already existing affordable regional hubs by linking these to metropolitan areas.

Improving infrastructure to regional areas will dangle a carrot to city dwellers to consider living outside the metropolitan area, easing competition and price pressures in the major housing markets.

Why your first property purchase is the most important

A first property is your entry into the market and the beginning of your property story. Getting this purchase right can directly impact your accumulated wealth, living situation and disposable income down the track and therefore your future buying power.

More often than not, your first property is not your final property goal. You will most likely have plans to buy something now with the hope that you’ll be able to sell it in a few years for a profit so you can go on and buy another possibly more expensive property. Therefore, getting your first purchase right has a big impact on your property story.

How can you choose the right first property?

The first step is to think like an investor. Good investors are good at cutting through the sales hype, removing emotion and using facts to guide their decisions. They are looking for properties that will grow in value and will deliver a strong return when they are sold down the track. These too should be objectives of first home buyers.

Doing your market analysis and how to read the signs

The second most important step is to thoroughly analyse the market. There are many resources you can tap into to access market data for different regions across Australia. Sources such as CoreLogic RP Data, APM Price Finder, or Residex will help you understand different property markets across each state and territory. Additionally, most government websites provide community profiles that share information about council plans, development projects or building regulations that can help you understand the supply and demand of the area as well as offering data to refine your search.

Get a feel of the area

While this can all be achieved from the comfort of your computer chair, ASIC discourages buying in a market that you’re unfamiliar with. Sell my home in York

Therefore, you should wear out some of your shoe leather and view the suburb in person and talk to a few locals. By walking through the area and attending a few open homes, you will be able to get an idea of the people that live there and what the properties are like.

If you’re looking at buying a house, wander the street and see if anyone is out cleaning the car or watering the garden. Ask them what the area is like, how long they have lived there, what they like about the neighbourhood and what they don’t. What is the noise like during the day and night and any other questions you may have? You may even be able to find out why the seller is moving and if there are any developments that might impact the value of properties in the immediate area.

Infrastructure and Development

Major council developments and infrastructure projects may seem like a good thing at first glance, but it is important to determine whether this infrastructure boom is a result of planned growth in the area, or whether the growth has already happened and the infrastructure is just catching up.

The local council is responsible for planning and development including zoning and re-zoning so they are a great source of information. So head up to the council and see what you can find out.

Property listings

Given the majority of properties are promoted on-line this is a good a place to research the market. Head to, or and review the current property listings and recently sold listings in the suburb/areas you are interested in. This will help give you a feel for the local market, how many properties broadly fit your needs, what sort of prices they are selling for and what has been sold recently.

Speak to a real estate expert

Your local real estate agents live and breathe real estate in your area and are a great source of insider knowledge – much of which you wouldn’t discover alone, so make sure you contact them and ask about the local market.