The ACT continues its reign as the most affordable jurisdiction for housing, according to a new report by the Real Estate Institute of Australia.
REIA and Adelaide Bank’s Housing Affordability Report for the March 2016 quarter showed the average ACT homeowner spent 19.3 per cent of their family’s income on mortgage repayments – well below the national average of 30 per cent.
The national average is propped up by the substantially higher mortgage repayments in Australia’s two most populous states. NSW and Victorian homeowners spent 35.4 and 32.7 per cent of their family income on loan repayments.
While Sydney and Melbourne’s median house price remains higher than Canberra’s, affordability levels in the ACT are also buoyed by the country’s highest median income.
In 2016’s first quarter, ACT’s household income averaged $2580, which is almost $1000 more than the national average. Copy: Create column charts
Inner south resident Charlie Alliott lives with his wife and youngest child in Griffith and runs Fox Antiques in Fyshwick.
Mr Alliott said most Canberrans don’t realise how lucky they are.
“We have a wonderful environment, great institutions, high wages and employment and excellent schools,” he said.
“We’re able to have a large backyard with swimming pool and menagerie – chooks, dogs, cats, finches and quail – while being able to walk to excellent restaurants and cultural institutions. You wouldn’t find that combination in the inner suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne.”
However, while Mr Alliott said he enjoyed the relative affordability of Canberra when compared to other Australian cities, he believed ACT house prices still seemed high by international standards.
“The current low interest rates certainly help, though,” he said.
While the figures bring good news to those earning an average to high wage, it’s a different story for those at the other end of the spectrum.
ACT Shelter executive officer Travis Gilbert said those on low to moderate household incomes still struggle with housing costs in Canberra.
“What [the report] states is true when based on average incomes, but the ACT has quite a different income distribution to other states, because about one-third of people are employed in the Australian and ACT public service,” Mr Gilbert said.
“For about half of all Canberrans, the housing market is very affordable and saving while renting on higher incomes is not a problem. This makes saving a home deposit easier as well.”
Mr Gilbert said about 40 per cent of Canberra households earned more than $3300 a week. However, for the bottom 40 per cent who earn less than $78,700 a year, the scenario is quite different.
“There is simply very little capacity to save in private rental in the ACT for people on below-average incomes as our rents are the third highest in Australia after Sydney and Melbourne,” Mr Gilbert said.