REIA on what should be the top focus for 2022

Peak body also calls on governments to do more to address affordability issues

REIA on what should be the top focus for 2022

People and sustainability should be the focus for the real estate sector in 2022, according to Real Estate Institute of Australia president Hayden Groves.

REIA will focus this year on engaging consumers on the role of agents in building better communities, as well as sustainable living and housing affordability.

“The reality is that people are at the centre of the success of an agency, whether it is our staff or clients,” Groves said. “Whether it is the 67% of Australians owning their own home, 15% of Australians looking to buy their first home, or the 27% of Australians that rent.”

Groves also called on agencies to push for enhanced customer service levels.

“Successful agencies play a major role in wealth creation and financial success, and we in turn need to do everything we can to enhance our service delivery of property transactions,” he said. “This ranges from adopting new proptech to reduce workloads, working on recruitment and attraction campaigns to help plug the significant property manager shortage and doing everything we can to mitigate the health risks of COVID through good planning and management and ensuring all our teams [receive] their booster shots as soon as possible.”

Groves said he also expected to see a spike in demand for sustainable living this year.

“This could be anything from preferences for complexes with electric car charge points right through to homes built with green materials or powered by renewable energy,” he said. “Governments need to come to the table to offer homeowners and investors [a way to] make their homes and investments more sustainable through proper incentives – as are in place in Canada and the US – such as ‘greener home’ grants and tax offsets.”

Groves said that REIA’s major focus this year from an advocacy standpoint will be on “the fundamentals of Australian housing supply and affordability.”

“While some agents are reporting an increase in stock levels being offered to the market, the reality is within the current market there is still more demand than supply, and until that demand is satiated, we will likely see continued growth in value,” Groves said. “National stock was at 218,415 listings for December, down from 239,866 in October, according to SQM. Everything we should be doing from an advocacy and policy-development perspective should be looking at encouraging Australians to list with confidence to make the most of the current market conditions.”

Groves said that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a major driver for the 2022 housing cycle – which made it vital that election commitments support market stability.

“Federal elections, as real estate practitioners know, can majorly impact the confidence of property customers to both list and buy,” he said. “With REIA successfully advocating to reverse the Opposition’s stance on abolishing negative gearing and CGT, we will continue to defend and neutralise any threats to our agencies and private property markets as they occur.”

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REIA also called on governments to do more to address housing affordability.

“Affordability continued to decline over the September quarter of 2021, with the proportion of income required to meet loan repayments increasing to 36.2% nationally,” Groves said.

A recent REIA affordability report showed that housing affordability peaked about 20 years ago, when the proportion of family income required to meet the average loan repayment was 27.2%.

“With a lot to play out both economically and politically before a touted May 2022 election, we will continue to advocate for policy initiatives that focus on helping first-home buyers achieve the great Australian dream of homeownership,” Groves said.