Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Property pundits at odds over Budget

A property seminar promoter says the Budget will not force out landlords and drive down house prices.

Arron Davis, who runs Investments and Projects, disagrees with SuburbWatch's Kieran Trass who predicts house prices will fall 5 to 10 per cent in the next year.

Trass told Campbell Live moves in the Budget would be extremely detrimental to investment housing.

His prediction is based partly on the loss of the depreciation tax write-off.

"Many developers have sold negatively-geared properties, and used the tax benefit of depreciation to justify the purchase price in the first place, to people who now will lose the benefit of that depreciation.

Of course some people will exit the market," Trass said, adding that he expected rental property to be in short supply and rents to rise.

But Davis said the Budget would create a stronger economy.

"When the economy is growing and there is inflation, property prices go up," Davis said.

Davis, originally from Australia, said he had run about 500 seminars.

"The main financial impact for property investors arising from the Budget is changes to rules on depreciation - changes that will cost an investor on average only another $15 a week per home.

"The fact that GST will increase means that the cost of new housing and section prices has to go up which will bring along established home values with them," Davis said.

Richard Carver, director of house-builder Jennian Homes, said building would not get cheaper because rising GST would push up the price of land and buildings.

Any staged payments by people in the midst of building made after October 1 would incur higher GST, he said.

"Builders will be under pressure to have homes completed before the increase date," he said.

Andrew King, vice-president of the Property Investors Federation, said his organisation was not entirely happy with all aspects of the Budget.

But he was pleased that the Government had "seen through many of the false claims made against rental property and resisted calls for large and discriminatory tax increases for the industry".

Those claims partly centre on the value of residential property investment, variously estimated to be worth between $60 billion and $200 billion.

King said landlords would not consider big rent rises which had been predicted if harsher tax increases were introduced last week.

"Withdrawing the ability of rental property owners to depreciate their rentals is disappointing, although chattels can still be depreciated which will limit the adverse effect," King said.

The GST increase would have a minor inflationary effect on rental prices, although GST does not apply to mortgage interest costs which are often the largest expense for rental property providers, King said.

Reducing income to increase Working for Families entitlements was never a realistic reason for investing in rental property, he said.

The changes to loss attributing qualifying company structures was aimed to tax profits at the investors' top marginal tax rate rather than the lower company rate.

"There is concern about the level of losses that can be claimed and this will need to be looked at more closely."

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