Stamp duty breaks for empty nesters will open up the market, says REINSW
15 March 2019
As the NSW Election nears, REINSW has stepped up its campaign for the NSW Government to introduce stamp duty concessions for retirees to increase the turnover of housing stock and improve housing affordability for families and first-home buyers.

REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin highlights stamp duty as a key reason that retirees refuse to downsize.

“There are thousands of empty nesters living in large houses with three, four and five bedrooms, as well as a big back yard,” McKibbin says.

“And there’s no incentive for them to move into more suitable accommodation – such as a smaller home, townhouse, apartment or retirement villa – because they’ll be hit with a huge stamp duty bill.”

According to McKibbin, empty nesters are disincentivised because the stamp duty cost to buy a property that better suits their needs is money thrown away.

“The fact that empty nesters are not selling has led to a scarcity of properties for sale and is creating a major hurdle for upgraders seeking a new home to accommodate their growing families,” he says.

Campaign for stamp duty change

In the lead up to the election on 23 March 2019, REINSW is calling on both sides of politics to provide stamp duty relief for people over the age of 65.

“The NSW Government’s failure to address stamp duty has led to the inefficient use of housing by constraining the capacity of empty nesters and the elderly to downsize into a more appropriately sized home,” McKibbin says.

“By staying put, these empty nesters are having a tangible impact on the market – but who can blame them? Stamp duty is essentially throwing money away.

“Stamp duty eats into the retirement nest eggs of many older Australians, especially those who have very little in the way of superannuation savings.

“Stamp duty concessions for over 65s will open the market, making it easier for people to move as their housing needs change over time. It will allow empty nesters to move out and free up housing stock for younger families to upgrade.”

Evidence backs up the need for change

McKibbin points to years of inaction by the NSW Government as impacting the turnover of property across the State.

“The NSW Government’s own data shows a decline in property transactions, and as a consequence, reduced stamp duty revenue,” he explains.

“There’s empirical evidence demonstrating that reducing stamp duty rates will lead to an increase in transactions. More transactions will equal more revenue for the government. It’s a win-win situation.

“The Government has unfairly and unconscionably profited from stamp duty for too long. The next Government needs to ask itself if it wants to lead affordability and growth, or actively hinder people’s ability to own their own home.”

What you can do

McKibbin urges members and the wider industry to support the REINSW election campaign for change.

“It’s time for the NSW Government to take steps to reform stamp duty,” he says. “Providing concessions to empty nesters will be a positive step toward energising a stymied market. 

“It’s time for the real estate industry to step up. We are strong in numbers and it’s time for our voice to be heard,” he says. 

  1. Sign the petition. You can support REINSW’s call for stamp duty reform by adding your name to our petition. Go to election2019.reinsw.com.au and fill in your details
  2. Read the policy. Take some time to read REINSW’s election policy and make it available to everyone
  3. Write a letter. Download a template letter, add your details and any extra comments, and then mail or email it to your local member
As part of its Election 2019 campaign, REINSW is also calling on the NSW Government to establish a dedicated Commissioner for Property Services.

McKibbin says the transactional complexity attaching to the property services industry demands a commissioner who has industry experience and the expertise to deliver better outcomes for the consumers, property professionals and businesses operating in the sector.

“Put simply, NSW Fair Trading is the wrong fit,” McKibbin says. “Real estate involves high value, low volume and highly complex transactions and requires better support from its regulator than NSW Fair Trading can provide.”

REINSW’s proposal is the establishment of a Commissioner for Property Services who will take a holistic view of the property services industry and will address the fundamental issues of consumer protection and agency service standards.
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