Coronavirus house price falls unlikely to increase home ownership: AHURI

author-avatar By on May 07, 2020
Coronavirus house price falls unlikely to increase home ownership: AHURI

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

Home ownership across Australia is predicted to fall despite house price falls brought on by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

Despite worst-case predictions of a 30% drop in house prices, research from the Australian and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) found that in the context of the current crisis, events like the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) which produced major falls in house prices did not create a return to home ownership.

This was due to fiscal austerity, a lack of finance, weakened household income, and buyers being outbid by investors.

Looking ahead, the research found that current seemingly high rates of home ownership in Australia are masking a long-term problem of "serious housing inequality" between older and younger generations.

The report, released on Thursday, estimates that just over 50% of households within the 25-55 age bracket will own a home by 2040. This is compared to 60% of households in that age bracket who owned their homes in 1981.

When taking into account all households (which includes those over the age of 55), Australia's overall home ownership rate appears to have remained high. In 2016, 67% of Australians owned their house - slightly less than 68% in 1976. 

Buying an investment property or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest variable interest rates on the market for investors.

Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, principal and interest (P&I) owner-occupied home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. If products listed have an LVR <80%, they will be clearly identified in the product name along with the specific LVR. Monthly repayments were calculated based on the selected products’ advertised rates, applied to a $400,000 loan with a 30-year loan term.

However, researchers found the overall steady rate of home ownership over time is largely attributable to Australia's ageing population, which lead researcher Professor Terry Burke of the Swinburne University of Technology says is a "recipe for long-term social problems".

"A housing system in which one half—predominantly older homeowners—acquires wealth and the other half—generally younger renters—doesn’t, is a recipe for long-term social problems," Professor Burke said.

The overall rate of home ownership is estimated to drop to 63% by 2040. Between the 1940s to 1970s, home ownership rates peaked above 70%.

The research, undertaken by Swinburne University of Technology, showed that while housing affordability has played a part in declining levels of home ownership, complex shifts throughout the entire institutional environment - rather than a single policy failure, political decision or market failure - has collectively worked to undermine home ownership levels.

These include the casualisation of the workforce, a finance and tax environment favouring rental investors, housing products designed for rental living, a lack of housing supply, and the financialisaton of housing.

"The financialisation of housing is an international factor and is best understood as the process where housing is treated as a commodity to be invested in rather than a home, meaning more and more money flows into housing but without any necessary improvement in housing supply or quality," Professor Burke said.

Professor Burke said Australia has an institutional environment which no longer supports home ownership.

"This means the housing system will become more inequitable irrespective of what incremental housing policy reforms are made. Given this, we have to rethink what sort of housing system is appropriate for Australia’s future.

"Either we embrace fundamental and broad-based reforms to rebuild ownership or we accept a retreat from its historical dominance, moving to a system which has more balance between rental and ownership—what we can call a dual tenure system."


Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2019. They are (in descending order): Credit Union Australia, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.

Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*The Comparison rate is based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

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author-avatar
Emma joined Savings.com.au as a Finance Journalist in 2019. She is a journalist with more than five years experience across print, broadcast and digital media, with previous stints at Style Magazines, 4ZZZ radio, and as editor of The Real Estate Conversation. She's most passionate about improving the financial literacy of young women and millennials by writing about complex financial topics in a way that's easy for the average Joe (or Jill) to understand. When she's not writing about finance she's watching Greys Anatomy (again).

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