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Want to buy a house? You really should have started saving a decade ago

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It now takes more than 10 years on average to save enough for a median priced home in Australia, according to the ANZ CoreLogic report.

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In Sydney, it’s even worse at more than 12 years.

The statistic was also likely to drive some new choices by homebuyers. The most significant was the likelihood of people shifting to areas where housing was cheaper.

“In addition to changing location preferences, there could also be some preference shifts around the number of people sharing a household in 2024, the report said.

“The pandemic period saw a notable drop in average household size from 2.55 people per household, to 2.49 as of 2023.

“This may have reflected greater demand for space as more time was spent at home, a temporary rise in available rentals at the very start of the pandemic, and high levels of fiscal stimulus supporting incomes.

“However, this trend could reverse as more people take up share housing to alleviate housing costs.’’

Based on the median home value nationally in September, a 20% deposit was sitting just above $148,000. This excludes other upfront transaction costs, such as stamp duty.

It also found that the portion of income required to service that new loan on the median dwelling value in Australia rose from 40.3 per cent last year to 46.2 per cent this year.

This compares to march 2020, when the pandemic hit, of 29 per cent. That was when the underlying cash rate had been set at a record-low in response to Covid.

“Despite the deterioration in mortgage serviceability, the portion of income required to service a loan remains a little below the series high of 47.3 per cent, which was in March 2008.’’

The report said housing affordability deteriorated on three fronts over 2023. Advertised rent values continued to rise, the cost of debt was pushed higher and home values have increased 7.2 per cent nationally since January.

“As savings are depleted by rising rental costs, it becomes harder to accumulate the initial deposit needed to secure a loan,’’ the report said.

“This is compounded by rising deposit requirements as home values rise, and smaller loan amounts as mortgage rates increase.

“Such conditions help to explain why home ownership has fallen more substantially across lower income households over time, and may result in weaker first home buyer activity going forward.

“Affordability metrics worsened for regions through the pandemic, and are now more comparable to conditions across the capital cities for ownership metrics such as the time to save a deposit, and mortgage serviceability.’’

In regional Australia, the accumulation of a 20 per cent deposit has become significantly harder.

As of September, the years to save a deposit reached 9.7 years, and 44.7 per cent of median income was required to service a new loan.

The portion of income required to service rent across regional Australia has now increased to 32.4 per cent, up from a historic decade average of 29.8 per cent.

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