The problem of eye-watering house prices stacked up against average incomes extends well beyond Australia’s biggest cities, according to Michael Matusik, a Brisbane-based property analyst.
Matusik—who has more than 20 years of experience as a property analyst consulting to developers—has expressed surprise there hasn’t been any Occupy Wall Street-style protests from Aussies struggling to purchase their first homes.
Data prepared for the Guardian Australia by BIS Oxford Economics indicates that the Sydney housing market is as unaffordable as it has ever been over the past 26 years. As of December 2016, 42% of the average disposable income of a household in Sydney was consumed by monthly mortgage repayments. This was for a median-priced home after a 25% deposit.
Melbourne came in second at 37.1% in December, though it was far less severe than in 2008 (38.1%) and 2010 (37.4%). Meanwhile, Brisbane was ranked Australia’s third-least affordable capital for housing, at 23.4% of disposable income.
In contrast, Brisbane (21.8%), Adelaide (21.8%), Hobart (20.5%), and Perth (20.2%) were all more affordable now than they were in 1991.
Darwin, at 14.3% of disposable income, is the most affordable it’s been in 13 years.
Perth has seen steep declines since 2012 from a peak of 36.4% during the height of the mining boom. The city’s spectacular downfall serves as a cautionary tale for other big-city property bubbles like Sydney and Melbourne.
It must be stressed that falling property values have not made Perth more affordable for average-wage earners. When the median house price is divided by median household income, every Aussie capital and most regional centres were rated as “seriously or severely unaffordable”.
Matusik said capital city house prices must drop 37% on average to be truly considered affordable given local wages, with Sydney (47%), Adelaide (29%), and Darwin (28%) required to fall the furthest.
“I have a daughter who lives in Hobart, and let me tell you, it’s tough in Hobart,” Matusik said. “We might think Hobart’s cheap, but it’s not for people living where unemployment’s 12% to 15% and some people haven’t had a wage increase since God knows when.”