Regional affordability deteriorates faster than capital cities

As property values increase strongly around Australia at a time when wages growth is minimal, affordability becomes more strained as house prices rose faster than the capacity of the typical household to repay a mortgage.

We know that last year regional Australian property values grew stronger than capital city values, but this trend has since been reversed.

Moving forward capital city properties are likely to outperform as affordability becomes more strained in regional Australia.

The HIA measures housing affordability with its HIA’s Affordability Index which is calculated for each of the eight capital cities and regional areas on a quarterly basis and takes into account the latest dwelling prices, mortgage interest rates, and wage developments.

“Affordability deteriorated across all states and territories, including both the capital cities and their surrounding regions,” according to HIA Economist Tom Devitt.

“Over the past two decades, housing affordability was a greater challenge in Sydney and Melbourne than the rest of the country.

Yet since the pandemic began it is the rest of the country that has seen a faster deterioration in affordability.

“This is not surprising given the rapid exodus of the population out of Sydney and Melbourne to other states and regions.

“The number of people who left Sydney and Melbourne in the last year was tens of thousands more than the number of people who arrived.

This is not unusual for Sydney but was a uniquely damaging development for Melbourne.

“In addition to this, Sydney and Melbourne suffered disproportionately from the closure of international borders and the associated loss of overseas migrant, student and tourist arrivals.

“This is why the deterioration in housing affordability was most acute outside of Sydney and Melbourne.

“Despite this deterioration, housing is still broadly more affordable than the average of the past 20 years, due to the record low interest rates making it easier to service a typical mortgage,” concluded Mr Devitt.

The most significant deterioration in affordability in the capital cities occurred in Hobart, with an 18.7 per cent decline in 2020/21.

This was followed by Darwin (-13.0 per cent), Canberra (-10.2 per cent), Adelaide (-8.7 per cent), Brisbane (-6.3 per cent) and Perth (-5.5 per cent).

Affordability in Sydney and Melbourne declined by just 3.3 per cent and 3.8 per cent respectively.

Across the regions, regional New South Wales saw the biggest deterioration in affordability in the nation, down by 22.8 per cent over the year.

This was followed by regional Tasmania (-13.6 per cent), regional Queensland (-10.3 per cent), regional Northern Territory (-8.6 per cent), regional South Australia (-8.1 per cent), and regional Victoria (-6.5 per cent). Regional Western Australia saw the smallest deterioration, with affordability declining by just 0.6 per cent for the year.

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