The Federal Election campaign has been “full of sound and fury signifying nothing”, to borrow a line from Shakespeare.
By ELIZABETH ALLEN
At least, that’s the view of many political commentators – and property industry experts seem to agree.
Their view is that property has played no direct role in the campaign.
In fact, issues such as housing affordability and interest rates have been conspicuously absent.
But most analysts warn that the hot campaign topic of future immigration policy has the potential to affect property investment down the track.
Finance journalist Michael Pascoe sees “no policy difference” between the two major parties as far as housing investment goes.
“The one potential major difference would be if either were genuine about reducing population growth,” he says.
“That would have an effect but neither of them is serious about it.”
Pascoe says the current policies of both major parties “will mean 36 million people in Australia before 2050”.
He also says “talk about a big federal debt is a nonsense”.
“There’s no genuine difference between them (the major parties) so you (the voter) will make your choice on your other prejudices,” he says drily.
Property strategist Michael Yardney believes neither of the major parties has discussed property issues during the campaign because neither wants to awaken the sleeping tiger of “housing affordability”.
“Neither party wants to alienate homeowners by saying they will stop homes going up in value,” he says.
“More affordability means some houses would be worth less so the parties have avoided the topic altogether.”
Yardney agrees that future immigration policy is a big issue for property investors.
“A rising population has underpinned the growth in property values,” he says. “The supply and demand ratio has pushed up values, so with both major parties saying they want to decrease immigration… that’s a negative for property owners.”
Yardney believes investors shouldn’t be afraid of future property increases “because Australia can prosper with more increases”.
“But they should be afraid that the government of the day will use immigration issues to take the heat off providing better infrastructure and services,” he says.
Independent property adviser Mark Armstrong sees “nothing in the whole election that will sway anyone” but believes property owners may lean towards Labor.
“My thoughts are that property investors will either vote for the same party as last time – there’s nothing much in the campaign that will have a direct effect on property investors – or they’ll tend to vote Labor because property investors are quite conservative and Labor isn’t doing anything to rock the boat.
“The economy is reasonably stable; interest rates are stable; and Labor has come out and said they have no plans to change or tweak negative gearing which is the most important issue for property investors,” he says.
Armstrong says it’s a given that the Liberal party will retain negative gearing provisions for investment properties.
However, demographer Bernard Salt says which party gains a property investor’s vote may depend on where that investor lives.
“If you live in an electorate being courted with promises of big ticket infrastructure then you might be tempted to support the party that promises to spend most in the area where you have invested in property,” he says.
“Then again I hope that many property investors would vote for the party that they felt might deliver a stable, secure and prosperous nation rather than the party that promises to give them most in the short term.
“Property investors are a shrewd lot. I suggest looking at the big picture rather than the short term. I’ll leave it up to you (the voter) to decide who does this best.”
Elizabeth Allen is the deputy editor of Australian Property Investor magazine, www.apimagazine.com.au
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