More diversity will solve Perth’s emerging housing crisis

Sydney’s housing crisis is getting all the headlines but there is a housing crisis emerging in Perth with affordability that is different to Sydney, however the solution is the same – fix the supply of new housing.

In Sydney, the affordability problem can be traced to decades of under-supply of new housing.  In Perth, the problem is a chronic lack of diversity in the housing stock, particularly smaller accommodation for first time buyers and the growing number of smaller households.

This was revealed in a recent study by REIWA and Shelter WA which found the housing market in Perth is heavily weighted towards larger properties, with over 80 per cent of sold properties having three or more bedrooms.  The problem with this is when the local market recovers and house prices rise strongly again there won’t be enough smaller and more affordable homes available for people that are suited to this accommodation.

We’ve had the policy settings in place to fix Perth’s housing diversity problem for a few years now but they are not working fast enough.  The aim to achieve 47% infill housing development by 2030 is very sensible.  It will result in less requirement for expanding urban infrastructure and it provides more opportunity for people to find housing close to work and close to places they are familiar with.

A major community benefit of introducing more housing diversity is that it provides seniors with the option to downsize into more suitable accommodation in their local area, which frees up houses for larger families.   

The rate of infill housing development in Perth is finally starting to rise and is currently 34%.  This is a pleasing outcome and we need to continue the momentum and find solutions to the obstacles to infill development and higher density housing.      

A key solution is more uniform local planning regulations to ensure Perth’s 31 local authorities have a consistent approach to land rezoning, particularly around stations and community centres.  It is scandalous that hectares of open space along our rail lines and stations in Perth are not used to supply the much-needed boost to infill development.

The aim in Perth should be a true balance between infill development and urban expansion, and provide homebuyers with greater choice.  Right now, however there is an imbalance in housing choice in Perth, which will become a major crisis when the real estate market roars again.    

Property Council WA President, Tanya Trevisan