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FHBs increasingly hopeful about home ownership

First home buyers are increasingly optimistic about their prospects of home ownership as property prices nationwide continue on their downward slide, according to new research.

Westpac’s Home Ownership 2018 report states that first home buyers (FHBs) are not only more confident about their prospects of home ownership than they were 12 months ago, with 63 per cent of respondents expressing their belief that home ownership is “closer”,  but also feel that purchasing an investment property is more achievable than a year ago, with 49 per cent agreeing with this idea.

More than three in five respondents, or 62 per cent, feel more positive about the housing market than they did a year ago, and 81 per cent of these optimists think buying a first home is closer.

Nearly three in 10 respondents are considering buying both their first home and an investment property in the upcoming five years, which is up by 105 per cent from 2017 (14 per cent).

FHBs are largely turning to digital resources (61 per cent) to research what’s involved in purchasing property.

Additionally, nearly half of FHBs, or 48 per cent, are willing to get another job or work overtime to secure their entry into the property market, with 45 per cent having taken up a new source of income to save for their first property.

Saving for a deposit is perceived as the main obstacle by 75 per cent of FHBs.

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In fact, recent research by RateCity.com.au found that FHBs looking for a median-priced apartment in Sydney ($740,093) may need to save for nine years and six months if they put away $200 per week, or five years if they set aside $400 per week. This is assuming they are required to save $109,171 to cover the 10 per cent deposit, plus lenders mortgage insurance and stamp duty.

In Melbourne, it could take six years and three months for FHBs putting away $200 a week to afford a median-priced apartment in Melbourne ($566,148), or if they set aside $400 a week, they could have a deposit together ($69,048) in three years and three months, according to RateCity.com.au’s research.

Since purchasing their first property, 61 per cent of respondents in the Westpac-commissioned study expressed feeling more “financially savvy”, while 58 per cent said they felt more “financially confident”.

According to the Australian Housing Outlook 2018–2021 report, commissioned by insurance provider QBE, lending to first home buyers surged by 28.4 per cent over the 12 months to the end of June 2018, despite concerns of a broader slowdown in residential lending due to regulatory pressures.

The increase marks its highest level for eight years and was most notably seen in Sydney, where first home buyer lending picked up by 74 per cent in the 12 months to June 2018.

Recent data also shows that 1,449 requests to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) were made between 1 July and 6 August by first home buyers (FHBs) looking to find out how much of their superannuation they can withdraw under the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS), which allows FHBs to contribute up to $30,000 (but no more than $15,000 per financial year) to their superannuation account or up to $60,000 for couples in order to “accelerate” deposit saving.

They can then access their tax-exempt voluntary superannuation contributions to cover their deposit for a new home, starting with contributions made during the 2017–18 financial year onwards.

Of the 1,449 requests made to the tax office, 592 individuals went on to apply for superannuation funds to be released, though the ATO authorised 498. These release authorities to super funds totalled $5,341,856, equating to an average requested release amount of about $10,727.

[Related: Lending to FHBs surges by 74% in Sydney]

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