Homebuyer confidence rebounded significantly in Australia over the past quarter on the back of improved consumer expectations of mortgage stress, according to the new Streets Ahead Genworth Homebuyer Confidence Index (Index).
Based on a survey of 2,124 mortgage holders and 416 non-mortgage holders, homebuyer sentiments were measured using five components: the proportion of monthly income currently used to service debts, maximum loan to value ratio comfortable in borrowing, last 12 months repayment history, next 12 months repayment ability and whether it is a good time to buy a home.
The Index jumped from a record low of 93.4 in March 2013 to 100.1 at the end of July 2013 and indicated significant improvement in homeowners’ perceived ability to repay. The proportion of homeowners who expected financial hardship decreased over three months to July from 27% to 17%, and more than half were expecting to overpay.
First home buyers’ confidence also increased, up to 99.9 from 85.9 in March. Of first home buyers surveyed, 86% expected to be able to easily meet or overpay their mortgage repayments. The figure was markedly higher than its March 2013 level of 59%.
According to the Index, concerns over the federal election have been rising over the last six months, with the proportion of homeowners concerned how the election would impact them at 46% compared to 44% in March 2013 and 36% in December 2012.
The report found that over a third (37%) of surveyed prospective first home buyers believed a change of government would improve their ability to buy property, compared to 23% who believed a change would worsen it.
The importance of assistance to first home buyers from the government was noted with two in five of those surveyed reporting they would enter the market earlier if changes were introduced to further help first home buyers. The majority of prospective first home buyers (63%) agreed that the government should be doing more to help them afford a home.
Overall, housing affordability and the difficulty to save a deposit were the biggest barriers to home ownership among prospective first home buyers. According to the report, four in five surveyed non-property owners said they were unable to raise a 20% deposit for a $500,000 house. Unemployment was a major concern (47%) followed by rising cost of living (38%). A quarter of surveyed prospective first home buyers have not yet bought a property because they have not secured enough money for a deposit, while around one
in three reported they would enter the market earlier if they could secure enough money for a deposit, or did not need to save a deposit (34%).
Despite the increase illustrated in the Genworth Homebuyer Confidence Index, the report found that 70 per cent of non-property owners and 65% of current homeowners considered the Australian dream of home ownership unrealistic.
Source: REIA News – August 2013