So it’s not just Sydney that’s housing-centric – the Menzies era aspiration to home ownership with or without the Howard white picket fence seems genetically imprinted. You want to stir commentary and feedback, mention the availability and price of a roof over a head.

But like the other main conversation topic, the weather, everyone talks about it but nobody does anything about it. Self-interest rules the discussion with everyone – owners, would-be owners, tenants, landlords, developers – pushing their own barrow and blaming everyone else for any problems.

St George Bank is offering a similar sort of product but aimed more at the retail investor while various financial engineers at other institutions are busy as well.

The boss of the Westpac fund is Lance Vassarotti, who sees a lot more happening in his space than merely providing institutional investors with a low-correlation product. In a Eureka Report interview last month, Vassarotti saw his product as part of wider innovation in the housing sector including reverse mortgages and shared equity loans.

“I think that there’s a real issue with social housing in all the states and having institutional long-term money in this sector provides the promise of solving or tackling some of those issues,” he said.

“In the context of falling affordability, I think the need for or the importance of investment stock for the rental market will become more and more as the dream of owning your own home is becoming less and less attainable. You still need a place to live.

“I think institutional money or a fund with retail money involved in it provides the promise to actually be able to provide that stock: quality stock with a long-term view and supply that rental market.”

Peter Fray

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