4130.0 - Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia, 1997-98  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/1997   
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October 29, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Australia's housing costs - ABS

Australia still has a high rate of home ownership, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

In 1995-96, 70 per cent of the 6.9 million households in Australia were owner-occupied and 28 per cent were renting. Of those who owned their home, 60 percent owned it outright and the remainder were paying off a mortgage or loan secured against the property.

For many households, housing costs are the largest regular item of expenditure. This is particularly true for households paying off a mortgage (28 per cent of households) and households paying rent to private landlords (20 per cent) and even for government tenants (6 per cent).

In 1995-96, households paying off a mortgage had average housing costs (i.e. mortgage and rates payments) of $203 per week, which consumed 19 per cent of their income. Private renters paid an average of $148 per week or 20 per cent of their income, while public renters paid an average of only $62 per week or 17 per cent of their income. Housing costs of outright owners, (property rates), were significantly lower at $21 per week, representing, on average, only 3 per cent of their income.

Survey results show that housing costs are strongly related to life-cycle stages, such as young singles, young marrieds, families with children and the retired. Costs are high for young singles living alone (on average $136 per week) and young couples ($198 per week). The cost for couples with children declines as the children get older. Couples whose eldest child is 15 to 24 paid $107 per week and couples with non dependants paid $73. Couples 65 and over paid the least amount, on average $23 per week.

Housing costs vary considerably between capital cities. Sydney households paid the highest private rents ($194) and mortgages ($249). Canberra had the highest average housing costs ($141 per week) due mainly to the high proportion of owners with a mortgage (38 per cent compared with 30 per cent for all capitals), the relatively high amounts of those mortgages and above average private rents. Hobart's average housing costs were the lowest at $89 per week, once again reflecting relatively low mortgages and private rents.

For owners, housing costs are related to the size of their mortgage which in turn is linked to the value of their dwelling. Of the capital cities, Sydney had the highest median value ($210, 000) and Hobart and Adelaide the lowest ($120,000).

In 1995-96, almost 1.1 million households were recent home purchasers. A majority of these (61 per cent) were changeover buyers and they purchased more expensive homes than first home buyers ($162,000 compared with $121,000). They faced lower housing costs as they generally borrowed less. Over 70 per cent of recent home buyers bought established homes which were less expensive ($131,000 compared with $159,000) but also, on average, slightly smaller (3.0 bedrooms compared with 3.3).

The separate house is the most popular dwelling in Australia, making up 79 per cent of all homes. Flats, units or apartments followed with 12 per cent and semi-detached, row or terrace houses comprised another 8 per cent.

Copies of the publication, Housing Occupancy and Costs 1995-96 (cat. no. 4130.0) are available from ABS Bookshops.