Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey

Don't dismiss Joe's first homebuyer plan - it may be super

TREASURER Joe Hockey has raised the idea of allowing first home buyers to take money out of their superannuation to help buy a property.

He says Australians need to think very differently about the role of super in future as the population ages.

While the idea has been slammed by Labor, the Grattan Institute and the superannuation industry, there may be some merit in it, according to local commentators.

"Most Australians have made most of their money from property," Christopher Schnelle, of In Your Interest Financial Planning said.

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"On the other hand it is my understanding that more Australians have gone bankrupt from property than from any other investment.

"Intrinsically, there may be nothing wrong with Joe Hockey's proposal.

"A lot depends on the amount people can use."

Mr Schnelle said it would allow more people to buy their first home "and that can be a very good thing".

"It could mean that many of those who currently have to take out high-interest mortgages will be able to take out lower interest mortgages," he said.

"I would probably draw the line at not allowing super to be used together with a high interest mortgage or, possibly, not allowing super to be combined with a loan for which mortgage insurance has to be taken out.

"If you go into the details there is a lot of scope for abuse which would need to be dealt with."

Plan would be good for market - not necessarily for homebuyers: Agent

Elders Ballina managing director Natalie Leslie said Mr Hockey's plan would be great for the market.

"But I do think there would need to be a limit on how much superannuation could be used," she said.

"I worry about what it's going to do for some people when they retire."

Ms Leslie said there might be other ways for first home buyers to get into the market.

"I am a big advocate of using your parent's home equity," she said. "You still have to pay it back - your parents are in effect, guarantors."

She said while a lot of young people also left home early, staying home for another few years and saving a home deposit was also worth considering.

John Daley from the Grattan Institute has said that Mr Hockey's idea would only push up the price of houses while Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen also criticised the idea, saying it was something Finance Minister Mathias Cormann had previously ruled out.

Bangalow real estate agent Brett McDonald, the principal of Housshop questioned whether first homebuyers would have accumulated enough super to make a difference.

"When the first home buyers grant was scaled back, that part of the market dried up and first home buyers have been effectively locked out, for the most part, for years," Mr McDonald said.

"It's well documented that the buying group predominantly putting pressure on property prices is investors. But without first home buyers in the game, it's a one-sided match.

"Finally, the question that bothers me most, with the entry point for a home in many areas around $400-500,000, and banks reluctant to lend over 80% in many cases, the deposit would need to be $80-$100,000. 

"Please show me a young person starting out in the world with this kind of cash in their super."


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