It’s a commonly asserted fact that houses are less affordable today than when our parents were growing up. Like most public policy concerns, the obvious culprit is foreigners. If foreign investors would stop buying our real estate, we’d be able to put down a deposit and go on that overseas holiday, without having to compromise on things like location, condition, number of bedrooms, and so on.
But what’s the solution, other than a better understanding of supply/demand economics as it pertains to finite resources and expanding populations? Clearly, foreign investors need to buy something (you can’t hold bribes in cash forever), but why does it have to be real estate? It’s not like they’re even planning to live here, at least according to what I’ve read in the papers. So why can’t they buy something else, such as...
- Our old CD collections. My generation has enormous CD reserves, lovingly assembled during the 80s and 90s. Each CD originally cost between $10 and $30, and when you account for inflation they’re probably worth at least $50 each in today’s dollars. Of course, we’re all using iTunes and Spotify now, but those CDs have sentimental value and it would be great if someone could pay us for it.
- Iron ore. I gather the mining boom was good for Australia, but I think it might have stopped or be in the process of stopping. If foreign investors simply bought iron ore, the prices would rise (economics) and the BHP shares my dad gave me would be worth something again. They don’t even have to ship it anywhere, it can just sit unused, like the real estate they would otherwise have bought.
- Coffee. I opened a cafe-slash-artist studio last year called The Hipster Sipster. Everything it sells is organic, free range, and gluten free. To be honest, it’s not doing so well financially, but that’s only because there are fourteen other cafes on the same block. If foreign investors purchased a million coffees a week, I would have enough money to buy a house.
- Something from my art exhibition. I work in a variety of mediums, and explore some heavy themes (identity, belonging, meaning). My style is avant-garde minimalism, with a neo-cubist revivalism subtext. I haven’t sold anything yet, but that would change if foreign investors started purchasing my stuff. After all, I am an artist and I deserve to be paid for everything I do regardless of its appeal.
- Tazos. I’m not sure where you’d find Tazos these days, but I’m pretty sure no one here wants them.
So there you go, five things that foreign investors could buy instead of real estate. I’m sure if we all thought hard about it, we could come up with five more. But will the Baby Boomers listen? If history is anything to go by, it seems unlikely.