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Mortgages more affordable than renting: Great Southern Bank

The majority of Australians renting could be paying more than those with property loans, according to a new survey released by the non-major bank.

According to the survey, which is comprised of 1,500 first home buyers across Australia and was conducted over March to mid-April, more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of respondents said they were paying either less or the same amount in loan repayments than they previously were in rent. 

The results also noted that 42 per cent of FHBs expressed that their repayments were in fact less with a mortgage than what it was while they were renting.

This was seen at its most distinctive in regional Australia, with 74 per cent of the respondents stating that their housing costs either decreased or stayed the same following their entry into the property market.

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For FHBs based in the CBD, this figure was reportedly 60 per cent.

The survey also found that home ownership was predicted to be more expensive than it actually was, with 38 per cent of FHBs stating that they expected their housing costs to be less following their property purchase.

Speaking of the survey’s results, Great Southern Bank chief customer officer Megan Keleher commented that this trend of rent outweighing mortgage repayments is “only likely to increase in the current rental market”.

According to SQM Research, the average weekly rent in Australia for a dwelling, as of 28 April, is $498.90 – a yearly increase of 11.2 per cent. 

Compared to this time in 2019, this new figure is $6.8 per cent. 

“We know one of the key challenges for many young buyers is saving for a deposit, rather than the ongoing repayments,” she said.  

Ms Keleher added that for those who are still trying to save, “it’s worth considering what support you may be eligible for under government schemes”, such as the federal government’s First Home Guarantee and the federal opposition’s recently announced Help to Buy.

But while these initiatives like this do reduce the costs of entering the housing market, they have also faced criticism. 

Last year, a National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) review concluded that the Coalition’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which has since been rebranded as the First Home Guarantee, mainly benefited those who were already on track to own their own home.

Meanwhile Greens leader Adam Bandt, vocalised his disapproval of Labor’s Help to Buy scheme while speaking to the ABC, suggesting that the measure will only benefit a small fraction of Australians and could raise property prices. 

Further, recent data by Domain has pinned the average price of a house in a capital city at $1.07 million, sparking questions over exactly how much FHBs will have to borrow to enter the housing market.

In response to rising home prices, growing rents, as well as surging costs of living, independent bodies have called for greater political action to increase the supply of affordable housing.

In April, the think tank Committee for Sydney called for action to decrease the rates of investment property ownership in the NSW capital, as well as further investment in social housing

The plea echoed those released by the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) earlier that month, which called for seven actions to be taken by all political parties in the lead-up to the federal election, including the “construction of 25,000 new social and affordable rental homes, per annum, by the community housing industry”.

[Related: FHLDS fails to assist FHBs who can't buy property: NHFIC]

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