The head of the peak body representing real estate professionals in NSW says the state's planning system must be addressed in order to fast-track more housing.
Real Estate Institute of NSW chief executive Tim McKibbin told the Newcastle Herald ahead of a meeting with members and industry stakeholders in Newcastle on Tuesday night that state and local governments needed to improve residential development approval times.
"Right now, the demand is way in excess of the supply. We've got to bring more property to market," he said.
"But unfortunately, it's not like toilet paper - we can't just truck it out of a warehouse, it takes a long time to bring property to market.
"One of the reasons it takes so long is because of our planning system. To manoeuvre your way through out planning system is a challenge in itself.
"But what we've said is we need some certainty in that area.
"If it a yes, we can do this on this certain bit of land, let it be yes. If it is no, then let it be no. But unfortunately what it usually is, is maybe.
"And maybe becomes very expensive."
Mr McKibbin said it often took "months, but more likely years" for large developments to be approved.
He said this was affecting housing affordability as consumers were ultimately picking up the tab for "taxes and charges" developers encountered through the lengthy planning process.
In the past few days, the Herald has reported on the sharp rise in property prices in the region, how rental vacancy rates have dipped to 0.3 per cent in some areas and the toll the housing crisis is taking on some people.
Mr McKibbin said the Hunter was one of a number of regions across the state where locals were encountering housing stress and the only answer was more supply.
He said on the flipside, property managers were also under the pump so hard that the institute had considered initiatives to ensure its members' mental health.
"This year, like no other year, we are seeing a market that none of us have ever had to deal with," he said.
Dwelling values in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie are at all-time high with the most recent Core Logic data showing the median price of all houses and apartments sold last month jumped two per cent from the month prior to reach $675,599. The yearly rise was 16.1 per cent.
Mr McKibbin said one "overlooked" factor contributing to the upward trend was the number of returning expats, who were often buying in metro areas and allowing existing residents to move to the regions.
'We've had over 500,000 expats come home. I don't think that is well recognised. Of our population of 25 million, that's a fair percentage. Every one of those people needs somewhere to live, and that is pushing pressure on available stock," he said.
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