There are 90,700 vacant houses in Melbourne – 5.9 per cent of the total – according to Earthsharing Australia’s 5th annual Speculative Vacancies Report.
“Our lazy land use makes a mockery of the drive for affordable housing,” researcher Philip Soos said today.
Vacancy hotspots include: Docklands 14.1%, Williams Landing 13.5% and Truganina 12.9% where construction has clearly outstripped demand; and a wide swathe of western suburbs with vacancies around 10%.
“The eye opener is that the latest REIV vacancy of 2.3% must be added to these findings. Politicians should be concerned that a 9.1% unemployment rate for our most precious resource exists in the CBD. Idle land leads to idle labour.
“The Earthsharing survey measures actual activity based on water consumption. It reveals widespread vacancies, despite the strenuous efforts of the real estate industry to convince us otherwise.
“The REIV rental vacancy statistics on which the media and public rely are fragmented, incomplete and contain a significant downward bias. They do not include properties held by speculators. They do not include properties being drip fed to the market in ‘staged releases’. They are misleading and should be condemned.
“Would it be ethical for your local pharmacist to drip feed life saving cancer drugs to the market at progressively higher prices? Would it be acceptable to do this against a fabricated background of drug shortages? The national outcry would end this immediately.
“First home buyers and renters are being deceived. In an affordability crisis, they deserve better information on which to make the biggest financial decision of their lives.
“Reporting artificially-lowered vacancy rates hoodwinks renters into accepting rent increases, prompts over-investment in property, and cows government into adopting policies agreeable to the real estate industry.
“Our survey tells a different story. Australia has one of the most generous residential property taxation regimes in the world. Capital appreciation has dwarfed rental income for years. Withholding properties from the market is a rational investor strategy.
The National Housing Supply Council claims a 228,000 housing shortage nationwide. We say, there is nearly half that locked up here in Melbourne.
“Given the towering value of the land market and its central role in all human activity, government is remarkably apathetic about investigating its workings, preferring to further expand the urban growth boundary and enrich land bankers.
“High quality statistics are possible in the information age at relatively little cost. If a little NGO like Earthsharing can do it, why not the Victorian and federal governments? The importance of accurate housing vacancy information is of heightened concern as we see California, Ireland and now Spain bulldozing houses in regions that were reported to have property shortages before their housing bubble burst.”
Download the Speculative Vacancies in Melbourne Report 2012
You are invited to attend this Thursday’s Speculative Vacancies Report release, 6.30pm, 1/27 Hardware Lane, Melbourne