Budget 2024: Conveyancers welcome home building package, but is it enough?

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Sam McKeith – 15/05/2024

Key players in the Australian conveyancing sector have cautiously welcomed the federal government’s 2024/25 budget, backing extra investment in housing while flagging a lack of new support for homebuyers trying to get into the property market. 

Tuesday’s budget, which booked a surplus of $9.3 billion for the fiscal year to June 2024, commits $7.8bn for cost-of-living relief as well as more funds available for building houses, roads and other infrastructure, which the government says will not stoke inflation.  

Matt Dunn, Queensland Law Society CEO, said it was good to see that there was budget investment in the supply side of housing, with money for infrastructure and rent assistance. 

Dunn also noted spend to cover fee-free TAFE to get more workers into housing construction, as well as changes to foreign investment rules allowing foreigners to get into build to rent developments “as long as they continue to build to rent developments”. 

“That’s good from the point of view of the supply side in order to pick up activity in the market, which is a good thing,” Dunn said. 

Less pleasing, according to Dunn, was little budget activity on “structural impediments” like issues of GST and stamp duty.  “They’re just not dealt with in any way”, he said. 

There was also potential for “quite significant” extra compliance costs flowing from investment for AUSTRAC’s second tranche of counter terrorism financing reforms, he said. 

AIC Vic President Shakila Maclean said while the cost of building a new house had surged around $20,000 of dollars in the last 12 months, the budget “did not include assistance for home owners with the cost of buying a property”. 

“I thought that was a really interesting aspect,” Maclean said.  

She described the plan, unveiled in the budget, to build 1.2 million houses in five years as ambitious, but said “there’s not relief for anyone who’s actually buying a property”. 

“I didn’t really think it was an inspiring budget,” she added. 

Ann Blannin-Ferguson, president of AIC NSW, welcomed the support for housing but said questions remained about the outlook for inflation, which remains above the Reserve Bank of Australia’s 2-3% target band. 

“If inflation really is controlled as they’re saying it’s going to be and the RBA maintains its interest rates, then that augurs well for us in our profession because then more people will be looking at buying land and housing,” Blannin-Ferguson said. 

“As far as the profession goes, all things being equal, that’d be great.”

Author: Sam McKeith.

Article originally appeared in The Australian Conveyancer Magazine.