Australians feel the pinch as home affordability dips

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2005, 12:00am

Australian homebuyers are feeling the pinch as home loans become more expensive, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia.

After three quarters of mild improvement in home loan affordability, the quarter to June had seen a return to a declining trend, the institute said.

Institute president Ian Wells said matters were looking positive for homebuyers late last year and early this year, but it has been a case of 'three steps forward and now a step back', with affordability declining nationally by 1.2 per cent in the June quarter from the previous quarter.

'Homebuyers in every state and territory except Tasmania are digging deeper into their pockets to meet their housing needs,' Mr Wells said.

'On average, families now use about 32 per cent of their income to meet loan repayments.'

Two years ago, the federal government was sufficiently concerned about affordability to commission an inquiry by the Productivity Commission into the affordability of first homes.

Yet there has been little action since the publication of the commission's report to address its recommendations, Mr Wells said.

The institute has called on the federal government to establish a taskforce to consider the removal or reduction of inefficient state taxes including residential stamp duty, linking the A$7,000 ($41,300) First Home Owner Grant to median house prices, increasing land supply and improving planning processes.

The institute's home loan affordability indicator for the three months to June in New South Wales was 27.2, well below the 35.5 calculated for the period March 1980 to June this year.

In South Australia, the indicator showed 35.8, down 0.3 per cent from the March quarter.

In Tasmania, it was 33.4 in the June quarter, up 1.3 per cent on the previous quarter.