WA government must step up on housing issues, peak body says

The newly re-elected McGowan government, and the Western Australian Labor Party, need to prioritise addressing the housing issues facing the state, according to the top WA housing industry body.

Damian Collins, president of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia, said he was disappointed that the McGowan government did not prioritise the housing market during the 2021 election campaign.

“WA is facing housing supply issues in the sales and rental sectors simultaneously, and these problems will only worsen without long-term policy initiatives to address barriers to entering the housing market,” Collins said. “While the building grants during the pandemic did help create additional supply, we are disappointed that there were no commitments, other than a limited amount of additional public housing, from the WA Labor Party to help tackle these problems, particularly given the state’s enviable budget surplus position.”

Collins called for “bold reform” to increase access to housing – especially in addressing the rental shortage and luring investors back to the market. REIWA also renewed its call for stamp duty reform.

“Stamp duty is a key area of concern for WA buyers, and there is clearly a desire for this inefficient tax to be reformed,” Collins said. “Other states, like NSW, are taking these steps, so there is no reason why WA shouldn’t also be looking at alternative methods of revenue collection to help ease the financial burden on buyers and make housing more affordable.”

In a REIWA survey of more than 1,000 Western Australians, 90% of respondents said stamp duty was a significant barrier to homeownership, and 60% said they would opt for an ongoing annual payment if given the choice.

Read more: REIWA calls for reform in stamp duty collection

REIWA has called on all political parties to commit to five policy recommendations:

  • Support stamp duty reform
  • Develop a plan to address WA’s rental shortage
  • Create jobs by removing stamp duty on the purchase of a small business
  • Boost the retail sector through a legislative framework that encourages innovation
  • Formalise the off-the-plan stamp duty rebate to secure ongoing construction jobs and limit urban sprawl

“It’s not too late for the WA government to prioritise the housing market and put policies in place that help address the growing supply issues facing our state,” Collins said. “We hope to work closely with the McGowan government in the coming years to tackle these issues so we can help achieve a fair and prosperous property market for all West Australians.”