I continue to be amazed at the degree to which politicians are missing the point about the rental shortage.
And you have to wonder who they go to for advice on this important issue.
Given the level of media coverage, by now pretty much everyone in Australia is aware that we have a serious under-supply of homes available for rental, which is causing rents to rise.
But although almost 100% of the population knows we have a shortage, it feels like less than 1% has any understanding of why it is so.
And close to 0% of politicians at all levels of government understand it.
And therefore the policies they’re proposing are pitifully inadequate. No one has yet suggested a realistic proposal.
Clearly, no one in political circles has any understanding of the issue and how to solve it – least of all the Greens who appear hell-bent on making it worse.
We’re not helped by a news media which has no interest in helping anyone, while being totally focused on generating clickbait.
At Hotspotting we’re scouring media sources every day for useful information, so we’re aware that every day, across Australia, there are masses of articles and features about soaring rents, people who are looking for rentals but can’t find anything, people who are sleeping in cars or couch-surfing because there’s nothing available or they can’t afford anything that is.
All wonderful clickbait, but essentially worthless information. None of it helps anyone.
What might be useful is genuine analysis of how we arrived at this point in the housing market. I’m still waiting to see it.
You’d think that, in all of Australia, there might be one journalist with an inquiring mind sufficient to ask the question: how did we get here?
This is a really unusual situation: how did it happen?
Only by asking that fundamental question, and coming up with answers to it, can we then go to the next step of devising solutions.
But it hasn’t happened. Media has no interest in helping people or finding solutions to problems. They’re interested only in the sensational headlines.
Meanwhile, our politicians are floundering. You would think that, with all the resources at their disposal, they might be able to cobble together an analysis of the situation, with some possible remedies.
Especially as the answers are so starkly obvious.
But, sadly, no, there’s hardly a politician in the country with a clue about this, with the possible exception of the WA Government.
All most politicians are offering is the vague notion that maybe, sort of, kinda, we need to build more homes.
At both state and federal levels, there have been press conferences with grand announcements with great big targets for the number of new homes they say they will build.
They’re going to construct lots of new houses and units and they’re going to do it really really fast.
However, there are one or two problems with that.
Firstly, the problem is not essentially about how many homes we’re building.
Secondly, the announced targets cannot be achieved because of all the problems besetting the building industry, with building companies going broke week after week, with ongoing shortages of materials and tradespeople.
The number of homes being built is falling – and will continue to fall.
Thirdly, getting lots of new homes built in 2025 and 2026 doesn’t help people who need a rental now, or next month, or next year.
Fourthly, even if the Federal Government was to miraculously deliver a million new homes, it won’t make a dent in the record-low vacancy rate unless mum-and-dad investors buy a major share of them and make them available for rental.
And that brings us to the core of the problem.
We have a shortage because investors have been dropping out of the market.
They have been massively discouraged by political decisions and bureaucratic bastardry – and more and more people just don’t want to know about property investment.
Understand this: a third of Australians rent and over 90% of the places they rent are supplied by private investors.
Not by government, not by big corporations, but overwhelmingly by ordinary, everyday property investors.
These people are the solution, not the problem, but they’ve been scapegoated by shallow politicians like the Greens and by the media, which has made the problem worse by inspiring more and more investors to sell up and get as far away as possible from the property market.
The solution doesn’t lie in a building boom. It lies in stopping the discouragements to investors and, instead, implementing policies to encourage everyday citizens to buy properties and make them available for rent.
Nothing else will shift the dial on this issue.