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How affordable is housing in Australia?

Anyone struggling to get a leg up on the property ladder might be inclined to disagree, but according to the Housing Affordability Report housing is more affordable than it has been in three years.

The report, which is compiled by Adelaide Bank and the Real Estate Institute of Australia, shows that for the first quarter of 2016 there was an improvement in housing affordability nationally. The way they come to that conclusion is by factoring in the proportion of income required to meet home loan repayments. That figure has decreased by 2.4 to 30%.

Set against the last quarter of 2015, all states and territories saw improvements in housing affordability with the exception of the Northern Territory where the amount of income required to meet mortgage repayments actually increased slightly by 0.7%.

Data for NSW showed that Australia’s most populous state had the greatest improvement in housing affordability with the proportion of income required to meet loan repayments decreasing by 4 to 35.4%.

Over the same quarter, the national number of first home buyers decreased by 16 per cent to 22,640 — a decrease of 2.4% compared to the same quarter last year. First-time buyers now make up 14.6% of the owner-occupier market. That number, however, is on the low side considering that the long-run average is 19.7%. In fact the report indicated that fraction of first-home buyers currently in the market is the lowest it has been since the June quarter of 2004.

The largest decline in first-home buyer activity was seen in NSW where numbers dropped by 22.6% over the March quarter. And the study also had a silver lining for tenants with rental affordability easing. However there is more disappointing news for residents in NSW. Just as with home ownership, NSW is the least affordable state in the country for renting a property. The proportion of income required to meet the rent in NSW is 29% — 3.9 percentage points higher than the national level.

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