Debate on Reserve Bank’s claim zoning laws add to house prices

Economists, urban planners and policy analysts from the University of Sydney, University of NSW and industry will debate the findings of a recent Reserve Bank of Australia report that claims zoning laws add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of buying a home in Australia.

The report, The Effect of Zoning on Housing Prices, was authored by Reserve Bank of Australia researchers Ross Kendall and Peter Tulip. In it, Tulip and Kendall estimate the zoning effect equates to an additional $489,000 on the price of a typical Sydney home, and $399,000 for an apartment.

Supporters and opponents of the paper’s approach and findings, as well as the paper’s authors, will take part in the discussion. Participants include Professor Nicole Gurran, an urban planner and policy analyst from the University of Sydney; Professor Bill Randolph, director of UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre; Rachel Ong, a professor of economics at Curtin University; Brendan Coates, a researcher from the Grattan Institute; and economist Dr Cameron Murray. Tulip, co-author of the RBA paper, will explain research methods and rationale.

The debate adds to the hot button issue of housing affordability in Australia. In common with a recently released Grattan Institute report, the RBA findings have been interpreted by some as implying that ‘excessive regulation’ is the main impediment to improved housing affordability in Australia. Other experts, however, argue the need for stronger government action to incentivise and support housing supply directly targeted to low income earners. 

“The Reserve Bank of Australia study raises concerns about the effects of planning on house prices, but its findings seem out of step with other research and what we know about how housing and planning processes interact in practice. I welcome the chance to discuss this work in light of our own recent studies at the University of Sydney,” said Professor Nicole Gurran, from the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney.

“Although Sydney and Melbourne house prices may have recently reached a temporary plateau, unaffordable housing remains an acute problem across many parts of Australia, a problem likely to intensify still further in the medium and longer term under current policy settings,” said UNSW City Futures Research Centre director, Professor Bill Randolph. “This is a serious concern not just for those directly affected, but also because of the wider economic costs that result, for government and society.”


The event is supported by the Henry Halloran Trust, University of Sydney, in conjunction with the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW Sydney. 

Event details:
WHAT: Debate on the zoning effect on the cost of housing in Australia
WHEN: 6:30pm, Thursday, 3 May, 2018. Light refreshments will be served after the formal event.
WHERE: Veterinary Science Centre University of Sydney, B22 Regimental Drive (The CVE is near the Parramatta Road and Ross Street entrance to the University).
Register here
Media contact: Verity Leatherdale (02) 9430 3512, 0403 067 342,

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