This question will be sliced and diced a million different ways over the next week or two, but I wanted to give you my thoughts on it.
In the short term, it’s going to provide a lot more certainty, and it will be back to business as usual eventually. A lot of investors and even prospective homeowners were sitting on their hands patiently waiting to see the results of the election. A Labor Government would have likely resulted in a boost in investor activity prior to the 1st of January 2020 when their capital gains tax and negative gearing policies were to be implemented. My view is that they were never likely to get the legislation through the Senate, but investors would have been looking to lock in a grandfathered property regardless. However, all this was prefaced on the idea that they could get finance. For investors especially, this was likely to dampen what should have been a very busy period for investors, followed by a short period of tumbleweeds invading open homes.
With the Liberal Government holding onto power, there’s much more certainty in the property market. Not just because the sweeping tax changes won’t come to pass, but also because those changes would have had somewhat unpredictable impacts on prices. In my view, property prices would have softened under Labor while rents rose as supply dried up, but nobody could have really predicted the impact of a brand-new property losing its’ advantageous tax status when sold to the next owner. A brand-new property would have been eligible for the CGT discount, negative gearing and full depreciation benefits rather than just the division 43 structural component. A valuer would have to take into consideration the fact that a new owner would incur much higher costs to hold that asset without the tax concessions, effectively lowering the value of the property.
If the election showed anything, it was that investors and small business owners don’t like being labeled as the ‘top end of town’, which makes perfect sense when you take a good look at the stats on the average investor. The idea that first homeowners were being shut down by swathes of investors purchasing their 5th, 6th or 30th property was shut down with ruthless efficiency. The tax policies relied on some dodgy data, which cost the Labor party some ground in the first week of the campaign. It begs the question whether the potential impacts of the proposals were fully understood by the party. Post-election night, Labor party leadership challengers were quick to distance themselves from the sweeping proposed tax changes, and party insiders’ question whether Chris Bowen is too damaged by his close association with the tax and franking credit policies to lead the party to the next election. Anthony Albanese stated that Labor would revert to a “blank slate” on its policies which may see Labor going to the polls next time around without their CGT and negative gearing policies which would be good news for the property market. APRA have shown that they’re more than capable of curbing investor activity and tax changes aren’t needed to slow investor activity.
The election also showed that Australia demands more action on climate change. One wonders whether the Labor party would have been in front with this message alone should they have been less aggressive on the tax reform front. Tony Abbott’s exit is an interesting development and hopefully provides more scope for the Prime Minister to implement policy on climate action, as the country, including a few newly elected independents, are going to be demanding it.
Property economists are now likely to be more certain in their calling of the bottom of the property market, and the single biggest property price appreciation headwind in my view is now the availability of finance. The 7.25 percent stress test and serviceability requirements will need to soften for any real booms to materialise within the next few years.