“What I think about the housing market”

There?s been an awful lot of noise being made lately about Australia?s housing market. Opinion pieces, market analyses, discussion panels; anywhere you care to look you?ll see people throwing around terms like ?housing bubble? and ?unsustainable? in regard to Australia?s rapidly rising house prices, and it?s fair to say that in some parts of Australia those terms are appropriate.

The median house price in Sydney has surpassed $1 million and is still climbing, and if that doesn?t seem ridiculous enough, a 12-square-metre car park in Kirribilli sold for $120,000 in June this year. Once more for those at the back; a dirty square of cement sold for a sum that could easily buy you a boat, or a caravan, or a second-hand Aston Martin if you were so inclined. The point is that a lot of disadvantaged people could do a lot of things with $120,000, and the fact that some well-off homeowner spent it on twelve square metres of nothing leaves a bad taste.

But what leaves a worse taste is the fact that by and large, investors don?t see the housing bubble as a problem. And remember that our Prime Minister Tony Abbott all but acted as a mouthpiece for wealthy investors when he said recently that he hopes our already sky-high house prices are increasing. This tellingly managed to completely disregard the compounding struggle faced by potential homeowners, who?ve had affordable property snatched from under their noses by investors.

Banks seem to be a bit more sympathetic to the owner-occupier plight, with a number of institutions recently raising the interest rate charged to investors.

A balanced market should surely be comprised of 70% owner-occupiers and 30% investors – that?s the historical norm. But it?s certainly not the norm right now. If the bubble doesn?t burst soon, this paints a worrying picture of a future where investors are a vast majority of the housing market and new entrants are forced into renting for a majority of their life.

For as long as I can remember there?s been a general expectation that the goalposts for home ownership fall either side of thirty, but the way house prices are going I might be fifty by the time I?ve saved my 20% deposit. And what about the more financially-disadvantaged people my age? I?m lucky to be from a relatively upper-middle class socioeconomic background and I?m extremely concerned about my future in regards to housing, so how must they feel?

As a gainfully employed student in the early years of my study, it?s hard to know whether to be worried or not. This is an issue that won?t affect me directly for some time, but I can?t help but fear that this bubble won?t have burst by the time I set my sights on property ownership. It?s a uniquely frustrating situation to be part of a generation typecast as lazy, selfish, and naive while bigwigs from the generations that came before us (who typecast us as above) ruin our chances of owning homes on a healthy planet.

At the end of the day I?m generally not in the habit of begrudging someone their ability to make more money, but my generosity doesn?t extend to an informal conglomerate of hundreds of thousands who are striving to turn the basic human need for shelter into a luxury item. The word ?investor? isn?t a dirty one, but a housing market dominated by investors is one that will see the majority of my generation become disadvantaged life-long renters at best, and unable to afford housing at worst.

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