Generation facing housing stress - Australia

Tuesday 29 June 2004

A generation of Australians face the prospect of never owning a home, while being burdened with rising rents, a housing conference has been told.

By The Landlord

A paper by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling said private renters were more likely than any other group to experience "housing stress" - devoting at least 30 per cent of their disposable income to housing costs.

The report said 1.7 million people faced housing stress, with more than two-thirds renting privately. But the report, by Ann Harding, Ben Phillips and Simon Kelly, also warned that tens of thousands of first home buyers were struggling to meet loan repayments.

The centre estimated that people who bought a house in the past three years were devoting 39 per cent of their disposable incomes to mortgage repayments - averaging $385 a week - up from 30 per cent in 1998.

Housing Industry Association managing director Ron Silberberg told the housing summit in Canberra yesterday that a generation faced the prospect of never being able to afford a home, while being hit with higher rents. "With first home ownership under acute pressure, the tightening in the availability of rental accommodation will continue," he said.

He said that with diminished prospects for the realisation of capital gains, rents were likely to increase much faster than house prices and household incomes.

House prices have surged by about 60 per cent in the past three years due to low interest rates, stock market volatility, expectations of strong capital gains and generous tax concessions for investors.

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