Saturday, July 12, 2003

The Prime Minister’s Home Ownership Task Force 10/3/2003

When a really good idea comes along, a lot of people immediately assume that there must be something wrong with it.

The joke goes: Two economists are strolling down the street when they come upon a $100 note lying on the ground. One economist says to the other "Aren't you going to pick it up?" The economist from Chicago replies: "No, it's a fake. If it wasn't someone would have picked it up already.

It was like that with the Prime Minister's Home Ownership Taskforce. I have outlined the idea here and here. And also to Gerry.

The ideas derived by the Menzies Research Centre for the Prime Minister hold the promise of solving a number of problems very well. Why have Do It Yourself super funds done so much better than professionally managed funds in recent years? Because the DIY funds had housing in them, and the professionally managed funds didn't as much. How could they? There is no easy way for super funds to own houses. The idea of sharing ownership between financial institutions and part-owner occupiers ("managing partners") would give the funds access to the largest asset class on earth and would give would be home owners to ability to move in.

Critics say it would force up the price of housing. So would any move that makes it easier to get into houses. The Task Force has come up with ways to increase the supply of land for housing as well, using innovative techniques to stop NIMBY's complaining. For low income homeowners there would be government loans, repayable in the good times along the lines of the HECS scheme.

They are good ideas whose time is coming.