REIWA calls for real estate to be a focus in the upcoming Western Australian Election
21st January, 2021
With the WA Election fast approaching, REIWA is calling on all candidates contesting the election to commit to policy reforms that deliver a fair, sustainable and prosperous property market.
REIWA President Damian Collins said throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the WA property market has proven resilient and has been a key driver for the state’s economy.
“As WA continues to recover from the pandemic, bold reforms are needed to continue this growth which is why REIWA consulted widely with members and the public to determine the biggest issues impacting WA real estate,” Mr Collins said.
Property taxes, the shortage of rental properties and barriers to buying a business in WA were found to be the some of the biggest concerns of our industry.
Support stamp duty reform that provides greater choice and opens doors to home ownership
For many when buying a home, stamp duty adds a considerable amount to the savings needed to qualify for a home loan, pushing home ownership out of reach for some people.
Mr Collins said REIWA is calling on every political party contesting the WA Election to commit to changing the way stamp duty is paid and for a state tax review to take place.
“The Institute recommends a two-stream revenue collection method for stamp duty that would provide buyers with the choice between paying the upfront cost or an ongoing annual payment – allowing this choice will provide a more equitable taxation system,” Mr Collins said.
“With New South Wales conducting their own review on the century old tax to determine the best option forward, WA should also be on the forefront and finding ways that makes home ownership more affordable for West Aussies.”
Develop a plan to tackle Western Australia’s rental shortage
WA remains the most affordable state in the nation to rent a home, but to retain that status more rental stock is urgently needed.
“Encouraging investors to buy established properties is essential and to ensure WA remains attractive to investors, REIWA is calling on all parties contesting the WA Election to commit to short-term financial incentives such as stamp duty or land tax rebates for investors,” Mr Collins said.
“In addition, legislative reforms such as the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) need to ensure a fair rental system for tenants and owners and therefore it is important that the upcoming review of the RTA remains fair for all parties.
“Some of the changes proposed in the current reforms pose a significant risk to the rights of owners and must be addressed, especially changes that erodes the rights of owners which will only deter investment and continue to decrease supply.”
Create local jobs by removing stamp duty on the purchase of a small business
WA is one of just three states or territories that continue to collect stamp duty on the purchase of a business.
“REIWA is calling on all parties contesting the WA Election to commit to a staged approach to abolish stamp duty collection on the purchases of businesses, commencing with the sale of small businesses becoming exempt up to the value of $5 million,” Mr Collins said.
“Currently a buyer who purchases a WA business to the value of $5 million will be liable for approximately $250,000 in stamp duty which equates to five local, full-time jobs or up to ten trainees.”
Boost the retail sector through a modern and flexible legislative framework that encourages innovation
WA’s retail sector feels the blow of an economic downturn more than many sectors.
Mr Collins said the current Commercial Tenancies (Retail Shops) Act is outdated and has hindered the retail sector significantly during a time when vendors were looking for innovative and creative ways to do business.
“REIWA is calling on all candidates to commit to an urgent review of the Act to enable greater flexibility in the length and conditions of retail leases, without the need to seek permission from the State Administrative Tribunal,” Mr Collins said.
Formalise the stamp duty rebates for off-the-plan purchases
REIWA estimates that approximately one third of units sold in 2020 were bought off-the-plan.
“The current 75 per cent stamp duty rebate for off-the-plan and under construction apartments has been vital in ensuring an ongoing pipeline of projects, which provides a steady supply of diverse housing and jobs for West Australians,” Mr Collins said.
“REIWA firmly believes that without ongoing incentives the WA apartment market will decline, which is why the Institute recommends making the off-the-plan stamp duty rebate a permanent feature of WA’s property tax system, rather than let the legislation expire in October 2021, as it is currently scheduled to do.”
As WA’s economy begins its recovery following the impacts of COVID-19, bold reforms are needed to make WA an investment hotspot not only now but well into the future across both residential and commercial real estate.