Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Home Buyers Strike" goes viral...

In a previous post I pointed out that Prosper Australia had announced a property buyers strike. Two weeks on and the campaign appears to be going viral!

I started a campaign suggestion (in support of the above proposal) on the site GetUp! which has shot up to first place (most popular campaign suggestion by votes), quite an achievement given other campaign suggestions have been running for up to 6 months in most cases. Another campaign to abolish negative gearing has also made it to the top five suggestions and will likely continue rising to second place.

Steve Keen picked up the cause on his blog (Steve Keen's Debtwatch) back on the 25th of March and then today blogged again in support of the negative gearing campaign on GetUp! He suggested the following reforms in today's post:

1. A petition to Parliament calling for the policy changes listed below; in addition,
2. A “First Home Buyers Strikers Pledge” to be signed by potential First Home Buyers who are abstaining from the market until the policies are implemented.
3. Policy points:
1. Abolition of the First Home Owners Grant (FHOG)  for the purchase of existing properties;
2. Abolition of Negative Gearing (NG) on existing properties and shares (coupled with grandfathering of existing Negative Gearing);
3. Restoring capital gains tax to the same rate as income tax;
4. 25% of the funds saved from these two programs over the next 3 years to go to the purchase of new properties to expand the supply of low-income public housing;
5. 5% to expand the funding of public housing;
6. 25%  to construct and administer new homeless shelters; and
7. 5%  to Swags for Homeless so that people who are still sleeping rough can do so in  better comfort.

Since the above from Steve Keen we've also seen mention of the strike and campaign to support it in the mainstream media, this today at the end of an article about negative sentiment in the market from Chris Vedelago @ Domain/SMH:
Social media networks have been buzzing about a call for a “buyers strike”, which was originally put out by Prosper Australia.

The goal is to cause a market correction that will see affordability improve and, in a related campaign, put an end to negative gearing policies.

Economist Steve Keen has come out in support and, to date, the strike call has attracted about 3179 votes on GetUp! (now ranked #1) and about 243 likes on Facebook, plus scores and scores of comments.

What do you think about the campaign?
It has also been picked up by on a popular Canadian housing blog, The Greater Fool where Garth Turner writes:
Imagine a place where housing’s hopelessly unaffordable. Where it takes six or nine times an annual income to get a home. Where young people, despite their inexperience and lack of money, are dangerously pushed into piles of debt. Where folks are told there’s a shortage of land, in a country that’s mostly empty. Where government has purposefully inflated real estate. Where anyone can flip on TV and see what housing excess did to the middle class in Britain or America. But where everything thinks it’s different.

And it ain’t Canada.

Two weeks ago a home buyers strike emerged in Australia.

Interesting, because the country of 22 million is in the throes of a housing bubble just like ours. Prices have raged higher since the economic crisis three years ago, fueled by low rates (now higher), easier credit and a real estate-horny government. Weeks ago The Economist figured Australian houses are overvalued by a withering 56%. And Demographia ranks Sydney among the most expensive cities in the world (9.6 times income), right ahead of Vancouver (9.5).

Speculation is rampant. Investors have snapped up properties, but (like here) market rent won’t even cover the cost of carrying them. And the MSM is filled with opinion pieces and quotes from politicians and experts saying there is no bubble – just a robust market based on economic fundamentals. Hic.
Further to the above mentions of the strike it is also being discussed on several economic/housing forums including Simple and Sustainable, Credit Crunch, Bubblepedia and even Somersoft Investment Forums as well as on multiple social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.

The latest Twitter update also points out that David Collyer (of Prosper Australia) will be hitting the airwaves tomorrow morning:

Red Symons ABC 774 Melbourne interviews David Collyer on the Buyers Strike 7.20 am Wedneday.

Certainly interesting times, I wasn't expecting this campaign to get the legs it has, so it's been a pleasant surprise.

You might be thinking, what can I do given the coverage this strike is already receiving... my suggestion would be to take 5 minutes to email the team at GetUp! to voice your support on having the housing issue turned into an official campaign... you can reach them at info@getup.org.au



  1. Hi Bullion, my name is Sam,first off well done on the initiation of the campaign ,i emailed info@getup.org.au but i got an automatic reply.im not sure if they are being read as they probably do receive a very large number of emails everyday.may be there's a different avenue for us to approach them?

  2. Hi BB

    While emailing the Getup team will eventually be helpful, I think in order to actually tip the balance in favour of them actually accepting the campaign is to first do everything in our power to maximise the supporter base. While topping the ideas list and having over a 1000 supporters looks great and is a fantastic effort given the relatively short time this campaign has been in existence, in the wider scheme of things those numbers aren't an awful lot. Just imagine how powerful would a 10,000 strong supporter base look? (and how much would it frighten the vested interests?)

    I only say this because there have been campaign ideas with larger amounts of votes then the FHB strike has currently, which have been 'declined' by Getup, essentially removing them from the main page and putting them out of the public sphere. Hence, the emphasis regarding the importance of keeping this going and continuing to spread the word. Having Steve Keen as a figure head is a great start, as is David Collyer's appearance with Red Symons tomorrow. However, this doesn't mean it should be just left with them.

    While the sites you've listed are probably the most on top of the issues at hand, there are lots of large Australian forums that are potentially untapped for votes and supporters. Sites like Whirlpool (where it already has been plugged), Essential Baby and Big Footy are the big 3 that immediately come to mind, not disregarding smaller niche forums like Silverstackers too. The best people to do this would be those who are already involved with or members of these forums. While these ideas may not resonate as strongly compared to your core supporters, it just means that proposal of these ideas has to be undertaken more subtly which may involve things like promoting the recent Domain article as opposed to directly pushing the cause.

  3. Hi Bullion,

    Maybe everyone should write in and ask if they can donate to the First Home Buyers strike campaign to get some press release? Are they going to say no to donations?

  4. Hi BB,
    Well done on launching the FHBS campaign. In my opinion it has burst, it's like a roller coaster that has peaked and is now just starting to gather speed at the very top of the down-hill slope. This campaign won't help it pop, but it may help it pop a little quicker saving more of those who were just about to make the biggest mistake of their lives and buy a property in the next few weeks.

    I've also posted the Getup campaign: "No covered bonds" link to the bubblepedia.net website, which had 3 votes before I did (this morning) and now has 157 votes. As far as i'm concerned, covered bonds are the next FHOG to keep the debt growing.


  5. Thanks for the feedback and comments guys.

    WQL I agree with what you're saying. I didn't realise that more popular "suggested" campaigns had come before on the getup site. It's a good idea for everyone to spread it as many places as they can, that's what drives a viral campaign like this.

    DBC, I noticed that campaign picking up steam already, well done.

    Just to clarify again, I didn't come up with the strike proposal, it was initiated by Prosper Australia. I am just getting the word out there!