15 February 2012

Housing Crisis

Ask any young Territorian what the biggest problem facing young adults is and the ones who think like me (the others aren't really worth listening to) will tell you "housing prices". Like me, those people are a little self obsessed and completely wrong because, when you think about it, drugs, alcoholism, violence and the yawning chasm between the standards of living in cities and remote communities are far more important than whether or not a goofy white office worker has any money left for the movies after paying rent. But shut up. This piece is about housing prices, okay? Geez...

A few months ago I made enquiries with my bank about home loans. I wasn't really feeling optimistic as I have no savings, no assets and a collection of debts that would make the Greek government blush. Just as I expected, I was told to go sort out my car loan, HECS debt and credit card and then come back. Fine. Who expects help from a bank anyway?

The problem in Darwin is the insane amount that housing costs. In Australia, only central Sydney has a higher mean house price. This tends to lock low to middle income earners like me out of the market more or less permanently. And it doesn't really matter what the government does about releasing more land or adding grants for first homebuyers: Demand for housing is so high that estate agents and property developers can charge whatever they like, confident in the knowledge that while normal (well...) people like me can't afford it, investors and and large corporations will happily pay half a million dollars for a two bedroom unit if they can make it all back in exhorbitant rent or write it off as a tax break.

NT Government to the rescue! I was super excited to find an ad in the newspaper for a government scheme to help lower income earners afford a house. I jumped straight on the government website and typed the program name into the search box.

Zero hits.

Typing the name of a housing department program into the search box on the housing department website gave me zero freaking hits. This did not bode well for the ultimate usefulness of the program, but I wasn't ready to give up yet. The alternate information source was to call into a TIO branch.

There isn't a TIO branch in Casuarina for some reason, so I had to wait until I had a chance to get into town during business hours to visit a branch. Fortunately that wasn't as much of a problem as it would normally be (more on that later). Unfortunately no-one in town including me seemed to have any idea where the TIO branch office was, since the last one got blown up by a lunatic with a trolley full of fireworks.

After walking a few laps of Mitchell St in the sun, I finally found the branch nestled inside an airconditioned shopping arcade and asked the questions I needed anwered. Tragically the receptionist couldn't answer them; I had to make an appointment to meet with a financial consultant the following day. I really just needed to be told the interest rate and deposit required, but these things have to be done by the book, I suppose.

I'll skip over the fun I had having my financial affiars appraised by a relative stranger. The sharp end is that after all that effort, the advice I was given was to go sort out my car loan, my HECS debt and my credit card and then come back. Alternatively I could go get a wife and come back with two incomes.

Of course, if I could do any of those things, I would have just gone to a bank in the first place. What a freaking useless program.

So here's to you, NT Government. Yet another fantastic initiative of no practical benefit to anyone. I'll see you in August.

Did you know Yarn Bombing is a thing?




Garry with 2 Rs
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