Federal Budget a chance to strengthen response to housing crisis

By PEXA - January 29, 2024

Affordable housing register, greater access to national property data among five key recommendations

Five relatively simple, low-cost measures could make an immediate and substantial difference to the nation’s escalating housing affordability crisis, leading Australian property technology company, PEXA, has argued in its Federal Budget submission to Government this week.

The five measures proposed by PEXA are:

  1. Accelerating the development of a national affordable housing register already underway as part of a collaboration between the private sector and local government;
  2. Examining regulatory and resourcing options to enable access to aggregated land and property transactions data for national housing and related policy purposes;
  3. Establishing a legally robust national digital identity framework;
  4. Providing support and resources to state and territory governments and title offices to enable equal access to e-conveyancing for all locations and transaction types; and
  5. Funding training for small businesses in high-risk sectors to improve cybersecurity awareness, capabilities and resilience.

PEXA Group Chief Executive Officer, Glenn King, said: “Housing has become a critical issue nationwide, with availability, affordability and suitability of housing all demonstrably worsening since 2020 for a range of complex long-term reasons. Access to affordable, suitable housing is now the single most urgent social and economic policy problem for Australians. At a national level, the housing shortage has significant negative impacts on economic mobility, participation, equity and productivity.

“We have put forward five practical actions for Government from 2024-25 that will improve the availability of affordable Australian housing provided by the private sector; the effectiveness, timeliness and efficacy of Australian housing policy; and the equity of access to digital transaction technologies in Australia’s property markets. These recommendations are carefully designed to provide maximum benefit to Government and the whole community. They can commence immediately and at low cost to Government,” he said.

A national affordable housing register

The not-for-profit private sector group Housing All Australians (HAA) has developed a new model that is designed to promote greater private-sector investment in affordable housing, called the Progressive Residential Affordability Development Solution (PRADS). PRADS has the support of parties including the Municipal Association of Victoria, SGS Economics, the Property Council of Australia, the UDIA (Vic) and the Commonwealth Bank.

In 2022, PEXA began a pro bono partnership with HAA to build a national PRADS Register, as the first stage in developing a practical PRADS framework. A PRADS Register will provide a centralised platform that records all affordable housing obligations and enable local and state governments to monitor the compliance of all stakeholders over the life of the commitment. This will unlock a new source of capital to help fund affordable housing. The PRADS Register will ensure that the affordable homes needed by essential/key workers will remain at the negotiated below market rents for the duration of the agreed period.

In 2023, HAA and PEXA established a working group to advise on the PRADS Register including the Cities of Melbourne, Port Phillip and Yarra. PEXA commenced work on building a prototype register and successfully tested it against historical data from the City of Port Phillip. In 2024, the group will be expanded to include a select group of local governments from interstate.

Robert Pradolin, HAA Executive Director said: “Given the pro bono nature of the contribution, the development of the PRADS Register will be as, and when, resources are available. Our request to the Federal Government is to help us dramatically accelerate the development of the register and unlock a new form of capital to fund the affordable homes as Australia has no time to waste. Commonwealth Government funding would enable the completion of the PRADS Register to a national, fully operational and self-sufficient stage within four years”.

Read more about the PRADS model and register here.

Unlocking national data to support national housing policy

PEXA recommends that the Australian Government’s Council of Housing Ministers and/or the Housing Supply and Affordability Council explore regulatory and resourcing options to unlock and harmonise access to property-related data nationally, for research, policy, regulatory, revenue and security purposes.

In effect, this could provide policymakers with a real-time ‘Census of Housing’ that is updated constantly, instead of only once every five years. The potential efficiency gains derived from timely access to digital property data are significant with public sector activity representing more than 25% of Australia’s economy. This would contribute to data-driven, evidence-based policy that is in the public interest and improves public welfare.

A national digital ID and verification of identity (VOI) system

With the right technology, policy and legal reform, an accessible, Commonwealth Government-sponsored digital identity service, with the potential to entirely replace physical identification technique, has the potential to provide significant efficiencies with the rising volume of digital services – if applied consistently across jurisdictions.

Equal access to e-conveyancing

Commonwealth government support and resources would enable the timely fulfillment of COAG’s long-standing goal of providing national e-conveyancing capabilities for all locations and transaction types. The lack of access to e-conveyancing in smaller jurisdictions (Tasmania, Northern Territory) is becoming increasingly problematic, as financial institutions step away from paper-based transaction systems. In addition, some types of property transactions in WA and other states are not able to be processed digitally, so the cost and risk associated with these transactions has not benefited from e-conveyancing.

Improving small business cybersecurity

ecent events have demonstrated that Australians hold justified concerns about cybersecurity risks arising from the use of the internet to conduct business. Overly frequent cyber incidents are corrosive of community trust in digital business and commerce. Government support for a wider program of cybersecurity measures for small businesses operating in the high-risk sectors would help reduce the current widespread cyber security risks across small business and accelerate the growth of the cyber security capabilities that Australia needs for the years ahead.

 

Download PEXA’s Federal Budget submission

 

 

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About PEXA

PEXA (Property Exchange Australia) is a world-leading, digital property exchange and data insights business, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. As an Australian start-up success story, PEXA assists members, such as lawyers, conveyancers and financial institutions, to lodge documents with Land Registries and complete financial settlements electronically. Since 2014, more than 15 million property settlements have occurred via PEXA, and today, more than 90% per cent of all property transfer settlements in Australia are processed on the PEXA platform. PEXA has since expanded its refinancing capability to the UK and operates an insights solutions business that helps government, and businesses, unlock the future value of property.

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Danielle Tricarico – Head of Corporate Affairs, PEXA

E: Danielle.tricarico@pexa.com.au
M: 0403 688 980

Last updated: 29/01/2024
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