The conceptualisation, sensitivity and measurement of holding costs and other selected elements impacting housing affordability (Literature review and research methodology for confirmation of PhD candidature)
Garner, Gary O. (2010) The conceptualisation, sensitivity and measurement of holding costs and other selected elements impacting housing affordability (Literature review and research methodology for confirmation of PhD candidature). (Unpublished)
It is widely held that strong relationships exist between housing, economic status, and well being. This is exemplified by widespread housing stock surpluses in many countries which threaten to destabilise numerous aspects related to individuals and community. However, the position of housing demand and supply is not consistent. The Australian position provides a distinct contrast whereby seemingly inexorable housing demand generally remains a critical issue affecting the socio-economic landscape. Underpinned by high levels of immigration, and further buoyed by sustained historically low interest rates, increasing income levels, and increased government assistance for first home buyers, this strong housing demand ensures elements related to housing affordability continue to gain prominence. A significant, but less visible factor impacting housing affordability – particularly new housing development – relates to holding costs. These costs are in many ways “hidden” and cannot always be easily identified. Although it is only one contributor, the nature and extent of its impact requires elucidation. In its simplest form, it commences with a calculation of the interest or opportunity cost of land holding. However, there is significantly more complexity for major new developments - particularly greenfield property development. Preliminary analysis conducted by the author suggests that even small shifts in primary factors impacting holding costs can appreciably affect housing affordability – and notably, to a greater extent than commonly held. Even so, their importance and perceived high level impact can be gauged from the unprecedented level of attention policy makers have given them over recent years. This may be evidenced by the embedding of specific strategies to address burgeoning holding costs (and particularly those cost savings associated with streamlining regulatory assessment) within statutory instruments such as the Queensland Housing Affordability Strategy, and the South East Queensland Regional Plan. However, several key issues require investigation. Firstly, the computation and methodology behind the calculation of holding costs varies widely. In fact, it is not only variable, but in some instances completely ignored. Secondly, some ambiguity exists in terms of the inclusion of various elements of holding costs, thereby affecting the assessment of their relative contribution. Perhaps this may in part be explained by their nature: such costs are not always immediately apparent. Some forms of holding costs are not as visible as the more tangible cost items associated with greenfield development such as regulatory fees, government taxes, acquisition costs, selling fees, commissions and others. Holding costs are also more difficult to evaluate since for the most part they must be ultimately assessed over time in an ever-changing environment, based on their strong relationship with opportunity cost which is in turn dependant, inter alia, upon prevailing inflation and / or interest rates. By extending research in the general area of housing affordability, this thesis seeks to provide a more detailed investigation of those elements related to holding costs, and in so doing determine the size of their impact specifically on the end user. This will involve the development of soundly based economic and econometric models which seek to clarify the componentry impacts of holding costs. Ultimately, there are significant policy implications in relation to the framework used in Australian jurisdictions that promote, retain, or otherwise maximise, the opportunities for affordable housing.
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