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Australia’s Housing Affordability Crisis

Australia has recently been identified as the least affordable housing market among English-speaking countries. The annual Demographia study highlighted three Australian cities—Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide—as being among the top ten most unaffordable cities globally. Sydney was particularly notable, ranking as the second most unaffordable city for the 15th time in 16 years.

Key Findings:

  • Sydney: Housing prices are 13.8 times the average income, making it extremely difficult for residents to afford homes.
  • National Average: Across Australia, housing prices are 9.7 times the average income, surpassing affordability challenges faced in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.
  • Top Unaffordable Cities: Sydney is second only to Hong Kong in terms of housing unaffordability.


  • Many Australians are postponing starting families and moving further from city centers to cope with high housing costs.
  • The growing unaffordability is contributing to the erosion of the middle class, affecting overall economic stability and reducing discretionary spending.

Interest Rates and Housing Market Trends

Contrary to typical trends, Australian property values are rising in most capital cities and regional areas despite high interest rates. This anomaly is largely driven by a shortage of housing supply.

Interest Rate Outlook:

  • The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is expected to reduce interest rates by 0.25% later this year, with further cuts anticipated in 2025.
  • Major banks also project similar timelines for rate reductions, potentially lowering the cash rate to around 3.1% by the end of next year.

Market Dynamics:

  • The national median home value increased for the 16th consecutive month in May, with cities like Perth and Adelaide showing the strongest growth due to low housing stock.
  • Stock levels in these cities are significantly below their five-year averages, driving up property values.

Rental Market Challenges

Rent increases in Australia are far outpacing wage growth, leading to significant affordability issues for renters. In the March quarter, asking rents for houses grew six times faster than wages, while unit rents increased four times faster.

Expert Insights:

  • Temporary measures such as rent caps and increased rent assistance are needed until more housing is built.
  • Experts stress the importance of investing in social housing and implementing regulatory changes to alleviate rental pressures.

Economic Impact and Future Outlook

The housing affordability crisis is having widespread economic effects, including reduced consumer spending and delayed family planning. With housing costs consuming a larger share of household income, less is available for other economic activities, potentially slowing overall economic growth.

Economic Observations:

  • Low home loan arrears and a strong job market are helping stabilize the housing market.
  • Sydney’s auction clearance rates suggest a cooling market, although some regions are still performing well.

Real Estate Newsletter

This article is a curated summary of various news stories from the past week, offering insights and updates on the real estate market. 

 Published: 14 June 2024



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