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I totally get why 33-year-old Edgar Pottumati wants immediate access to money that’s supposed to fund his latter years.

He’s just one of the thousands that’s been burnt, week in, week out, at inner-city auctions, by cash-rich investors, many of them armed with access to their self-managed super funds.

They can dip into that money for investment purposes, provided they don’t live in it, so why shouldn’t those struggling to get access to a home in this, the first-rung of the property ladder?

Now Pottumati works in banking and is at an age where I’m sure he’d invest that $50,000 he’s “squirrelled away” wisely. Despite what the prophets of doom say, if he’s going to hold onto it for a reasonable period he’s unlikely to lose if he makes a smart choice in Sydney’s inner-city. There’s an undersupply of new housing for our growing population.

And at 33, there’s sufficient time to focus on his superannuation later.

But not everyone is as old or as wise as the equity-rich investors, or in such a grand position as our model Sydney case study. The problem with taking Treasurer Joe Hockey’s scheme national – and available to all – is that not everyone is likely to be as lucky. There’s been some talk of apartment oversupply in parts of Melbourne and Brisbane, for example, so you would want to be very careful with your choices there.

We need big ideas to fix housing affordability for young people, but I’m not sure this is the one.

Making it a free-for-all will just push prices higher as more people dive in. We’ve seen that with the now widely criticised first home buyer schemes that, at one stage, promised $14,000 for buyers of existing property.

It’s no accident that government handouts to first-home buyers right around the country now apply only for new property – a clear acknowledgement that the problem lies on the supply side of the equation.

So Joe, and also state governments, let’s get a first-home buyer scheme focusing on that. Instead of selling off government land to developers for housing for the wealthy, how about subsidising some affordable housing for first-home buyers?


Posted by Stephen Nicholls – Domain (Fairfax) on 10th March, 2015