Housing affordability in Australia has deteriorated significantly over the 12 months to October 2015, increasing the risk of delinquency and default.
According to a new report by Moody’s Investors Service titled Housing Affordability Deteriorates, Worst in 14 Years, Australian households with two income earners spent an average of 29.3 per cent of their monthly income on monthly mortgage repayments as of 30 October – up from 28.2 per cent last year.
Sydney households spent an average of 39.2 per cent of their income on mortgage repayments – up from 36.1 per cent on the 12 months prior, and the highest level since 2001.
Housing affordability also deteriorated in Melbourne, where households spent an average of 32.1 per cent on mortgage repayments (compared to 29.1 per cent a year ago), while Adelaide also saw a marginal decline to 21.7 per cent.
However, affordability improved in Perth (21.0 per cent, compared to 23.9 per cent a year ago) and is now at its lowest level since 2004, which Moody’s attributed to a decline in house prices. Affordability also improved slightly in Brisbane (23.3 per cent).
The report noted that national housing affordability remains marginally better than the 10-year average, but home owners in Sydney and Melbourne are paying 5.4 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points more respectively of their monthly incomes towards mortgage repayments than the 10-year average.
Furthermore, the proportion of monthly income needed to meet mortgage repayments will increase by a further 0.4 percentage points to 0.6 points when recent bank rate rises take effect, according to the report.
Moody’s said a deterioration in housing affordability is credit negative for new mortgage loans and for residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) backed by such loans.
“Less affordable mortgages increase the risk of delinquency and default, and these risks will increase further once mortgage interest rates rise from their current low levels,” it said.
“New mortgages in Sydney and Melbourne are especially problematic. The higher house prices in these two cities mean larger mortgage loans with more onerous repayment obligations that are moreover being underwritten at current low interest rates.”
Mortgages from Sydney and Melbourne account for 45 per cent of loans in the rated RMBS portfolio as of May 2015, according to Moody’s.