Attitudes to housing affordability

Attitudes to housing affordability
Year published: 2017


The 24th ANUPoll - Attitudes to Housing Affordability: Pressures, Problems and Solutions - has found an overwhelming majority believe the great Australian dream of home ownership will be out of reach for future generations.

With the government due to announce housing affordability measures in the 9 May Budget, the ANUpoll also found one in five Australians are struggling to keep up with their housing payments.

Lead researcher Dr Jill Sheppard said the ANUpoll found Australians still believe home ownership is a large part of the Australian way of life, but they also have concerns about the rapidly-rising prices in the major cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne.

“The great Australian dream of owning a home is still considered a major part of the Australian way of life, but a vast majority now believe home ownership will be unachievable for future generations,” said Dr Sheppard, from the School of Politics and International Relations at The Australian National University (ANU).

“Young Australians are particularly pessimistic and have little faith that they will be able to buy a home and replicate the levels of home ownership of previous generations.

“This poses a significant policy dilemma for federal and state governments as they grapple with rising prices, affordability, and the aspirations of those wanting to own their own home.”

Poll findings

The ANUpoll surveyed 2,513 people between 6 March and 27 March this year. It found:

  • Around 87 per cent are either very concerned or somewhat concerned that future generations will not be able to afford to buy a house;
  • 75 per cent believe owning a home is part of the Australian way of life;
  • Belief that home ownership is part of the Australian way of life is softer with younger people, at 60 per cent for 18-24 year olds;
  • 68 per cent believe emotional security, stability and belonging are the main reasons to buy a house;
  • 51 per cent nominated investment and financial security as key reasons to buy a house;
  • 28 per cent of those surveyed have economised on luxuries to meet mortgage or rent payments;
  • 18 per cent have economised on essentials to meet mortgage or rent payments;
  • One in five Australians are struggling to keep up with mortgage or rental payments, with 18 per cent saying it is a constant struggle, and two per cent saying they have fallen behind;
  • 23 per cent of mortgage holders said they would be in quite a bit, or a lot, of difficulty if interest rates increased by two percentage points;
  • 68 per cent of those not in the housing market are concerned they will never be able to afford a home;
  • 77 per cent do not expect their families to give any financial support towards buying a home;
  • 51.7 per cent support the removal of tax incentives such as negative gearing and the capital gains discount, but 27 per cent of investors strongly oppose their removal;
  • 83 per cent support or strongly support first homeowner grants; and
  • A small preference is shown for relaxing planning restrictions to increase supply of new housing.

Possible policy implications

Co-researcher, Associate Professor Ben Phillips said the ANUpoll highlighted some of the policy options open to federal and state governments.

He said Australians supported an increase in the supply of housing, and an increase in the supply of public housing.

“The ANUpoll also found almost half of home-owners would be willing to see their property stop growing in value to improve housing affordability while only 31.8 per cent would not,” said Associate Professor Phillips, from the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods.

“This may suggest that the issue of housing affordability is acute enough that Australians may accept policy change that could reduce prices or the rate of price growth to allow more equitable access to the housing market.

“The survey shows some support for policies that may impact on house prices such as the removal of negative gearing or capital gains tax concessions or the number of houses built in their local area.”

The ANUpoll was conducted by the Social Research Centre – an ANU Enterprise business.

Updated:  7 May 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications