Selasa, 27 April 2010

The shell-less snails of Taipei: Colebatch

Tim Colebatch follows up his recent excellent article on housing and tax with another on the consequences of a housing bubble – this time looking at lessons from Taipei, where the so-called 'snails without shells' – young persons priced out of the owner-occupied housing market – are protesting unaffordable housing.

(Snail and friends in unaffordable Taipei.)

Colebatch's article also refers to another recent controversy: whether Australian house prices have been pushed up by foreign buyers, which reportedly had been given a filip by the Federal Government when it relaxed the regulation of such purchases by the Foreign Investment Review Board last year.

Here at the Brown Couch we watched with amusement as the TV current affairs shows tried to report this one, not sure whether to appeal to the presumed racism of their audience (ie 'cashed-up Chinese are buying all our houses – boo!'), or their presumed greed as house-price speculators (ie 'cashed-up Chinese are buying all our houses – hooray!').

The Government is now moving to tighten the regulations up again. The Urban Taskforce, the developer lobby group, liked the relaxed approach. Its Chief Executive, Aaron Gadiel explained:

a renter will not be fussed if their landlord lives in Australia or overseas – they just want a home. By allowing foreign investors to purchase new housing, more apartment development is made possible, which in turn means more homes available to renters.
Fair enough – up to a point. This position holds only in relation to investment in newly built housing, not purchases of existing stock. It is not clear that overseas landlords have done any better than their Australian counterparts in building new stock, rather than just buying and bidding up the price of homes already in existence.