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More than 75 per cent of Sydneysiders think foreign investors are driving up Australian property prices despite data showing they account for less than 15 per cent of purchases, a study has found.

"There's actually really no data to support those claims," University of Sydney housing researcher Dallas Rogers said on Wednesday.

But what's not understood is the impact of foreign investment on particular neighbourhoods.

'If it's concentrated in one part of the city that could be impacting the micro housing market," Dr Rogers said.

"In spite of the fact that we don't have detailed data about the impact of foreign investors people still have these very strong views."

More than half the survey's 900 respondents also think foreign investors shouldn't be allowed to buy residential properties in Sydney.

Dr Rogers said identifying foreign investors can be confusing.

"People who are buying established homes are actually Chinese-Australian citizens but people are going to auctions and accusing them of being Chinese investors," he said.

"There are very strict conditions about buying established homes as a foreign investor."

Nevertheless, Sydneysiders have little faith in the way government is regulating foreign investment, he said, with only 12 per cent of respondents agreeing the government should encourage more foreign investment in the Sydney housing market.

"The recent federal budget saw the government come down hard on foreign investors, which demonstrates the dilemma the government is facing as it attempts to manage foreign investment alongside a disenchanted Australian public," Dr Rogers said.

Respondents also rejected the real estate industry's claim that foreign investment increases housing supply, which helps address the housing affordability problem.

By Lisa Robinson
 
  • Blaming foreigners for our housing affordability crisis is understandable but nonetheless wrong.

    It is easy to go to an auction and see Asian looking people and feel that foreigners are swamping our market. Many of these people are probably actually Australian citizens who simply happen to be of Asian background, and who are just as welcome to purchase and own property as non-Asian Australians. Of those who are indeed foreign buyers, their purchases are limited to new or newly constructed dwellings anyway (unless they plan to live in these dwellings). Of course, if people are flouting the rules, that is a real problem.

    That said, Australia does need to have some form of debate just about the level of immigration. Many immigrants are wonderful people and bring great skills and entrepreneurial drive to our society and economy. We just have to make sure that the rate at which we bring new people in is sustainable, wonderful as these people are. It is possible to have too much of a good thing.

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