The Treasurer Scott Morrison says superannuation funds should invest in affordable housing and the Government is reportedly still considering ways to let first home buyers access superannuation.
“Home ownership is a positive for the Australian economy, our society and the nation’s finances,” said the Treasurer, in a speech to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.
“If Australians are able to affordably own their own home and achieve housing stability, this can set them and their children up for success and reduce risks of welfare dependence. This is especially true as Australians reach retirement.”
“Australian homeowners who are not encumbered by large housing debt as they enter retirement will have their pension or superannuation incomes go much further to meet their many other costs of living.”
Morrison said he hoped that affordable housing would come to be seen as a fixed interest investment, which would attract superannuation funds.
“As is already occurring overseas, the goal is for affordable housing to be conceived not so much as a real estate investment, but a longer term fixed interest investment that can comfortably sit within institutional investment portfolios,” he said.
“There is a clear appetite for this from pension funds, particularly in the US and Canada. I would hope a similar appetite could be cultivated amongst Australian super funds. In fact our funds are already investing in similar products in the UK. What could be more in the interest of nurses, teachers or police pension fund members than investing in affordable housing for nurses, teachers and police officers?”
Housing affordability appears to be a key part of the upcoming Federal Budget. Allowing first home buyers to access their super is apparently still being considered. It is reported in The Australian that the model currently favoured by the Government would involve first home buyers directing superannuation into a special savings account, to be matched by dollar-for-dollar by personal savings. Earlier models reportedly considered involved withdrawing contributions towards a deposit or the super fund taking an equity stake in the property.
The superannuation and property industries have welcomed the option of increased investment in affordable housing, but strongly argued against allowing first home buyers to access their super.