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The CEO of Australia’s largest independently-owned mortgage broker, Mortgage Choice, is pleased to see the recent Productivity Commission report findings ratify an earlier government department report identifying the true cause of deteriorating housing affordability.

“Now it is time for governments to take immediate and effective action, which is long overdue, or suffer the consequences of even more Australians being pushed out of the market,” Mr Russell says.

In 2004 the Government’s Productivity Commission blamed the cause of higher property prices on rising interest rates and overlooked the effect undersupply continues to have on affordability.

Last April, following the second annual National Housing Supply Council report, Michael Russell called for urgent, significant improvements to development approval and planning assessment processes to boost the supply of housing. The desired outcomes are an increase in the supply of affordable housing and a downward pressure on housing prices.

It seems the Productivity Commission now agrees. The findings of its most recent report concur that:

Planning systems vary greatly between states and territories. Given the diverse range of stakeholders’ (eg. community, business, regulatory) needs and preferences, these systems are characterised by ‘objectives overload’. Further, those objectives have been growing.The most common causes of delays and extended timeframes in the land supply process of all jurisdictions are the rezoning/planning scheme amendment process, structure planning process and overcoming community concerns and/or addressing objections. The lengthy completion time of rezoning and planning processes, which can take up to six years, is not surprising given the complexity of each process and the absence of any statutory time limits for these processes.

Mr Russell states, “Australians deserve transparent, effective housing decisions to be made quickly and regularly in the interests of turning around the deterioration of affordability.”

“We call on the Federal Minister for Housing to accept the conclusions of both reports and open up a much more productive, consultative communication channel with the state Planning Ministers to take immediate action to resolve the true cause of housing affordability. The real issues are problems with sufficient land release, development approval processes and development costs.

“Undersupply is the barricade, not interest rates. The latest Productivity Commission report findings are long overdue; much-needed improvements must be actioned ASAP.

“Increasing the supply of residential properties in the low to medium price range will deliver a reduction in pricing pressure.

“We need to dissolve the rolls of red tape that limit the supply of land for development. We need to implement timeframes for rezoning and planning amendments to improve the development approval process. We need to formulate planning guides so developers can be confident in their due diligence and, finally, we need to include automatic zoning of land for ‘urban use’ to save time releasing land.”

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Tags: finance, housing, news, property, real estate

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