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Access to super won’t solve housing affordability, warns ASFA


Allowing access to super for housing will only benefit a minority of members with high super balances, ASFA analysis shows.

By Miranda Brownlee 9 minute read

New research conducted by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has found that allowing early access to super for housing would not make home ownership more attainable for the majority of aspiring first-home buyers.

The research follows a policy proposed by the Shadow Treasurer to allow first home buyers and women over 55 to draw down on their super for a deposit.

ASFA examined an ATO sample of 300,000 taxpayers, in combination with ABS data, to assess the distribution of super balances for prospective first-home buyers aged 25-34 across Australia’s major capital cities.

It then compared and charted that against the housing deposits required for median-priced houses and units equivalent to 20 per cent of home valuation.

The data indicated that no one in this age group in Sydney, whether single or in a couple, could raise enough money for the deposit on an average house or unit by using their super alone, even if they drained their retirement savings.

“A young Sydney couple with the median amount of superannuation would be more than $150,000 short for the deposit on a median-priced house if they withdrew and used only their super,” said ASFA.

In Melbourne, prospective house buyers are similarly unable to raise the deposit for a house by accessing all their super.

“Only a couple in the top 20 per cent of superannuation balance holders could gather a deposit for a unit by using all their retirement savings in Melbourne,” the association said.

The research report stated that the specific effects of allowing access to super for housing on affordability for first-home buyers would be complex.

“Early-users of such a measure, who also have sufficient additional funds in their superannuation and thus likely to be higher-income earners, could benefit,” said ASFA.

“However, as access to the measure increased, additional nominal purchasing power available to prospective first-home buyers, again, likely to be higher-income earners, would be competitively bid into higher house prices in relevant sub-markets.

“All other things being equal, higher house prices would mean larger required deposits for potential first-home buyers.”

ASFA chief executive Mary Delahunty said that while super may seem like a tempting pot to raid, analysis shows it will only benefit those young people who are already more likely to be able to afford a home, and not solve the crippling supply-side deficit that is fuelling our housing crisis.

“Accessing superannuation is not the silver bullet to solving Australia’s housing crisis,” said Delahunty.

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Miranda Brownlee

Miranda Brownlee


Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.

Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.

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