First home buyers are dominating the real estate market

First home buyers are dominating the Australian real estate market in a manner not seen in more than a decade — blowing away years of complaints about housing unaffordability.

As our property market continues to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic, figures provided by the Real Estate Institute of Australia reveal first home buyers make up a greater percentage of property owners than they have since 2009.

According to the REIA Housing Affordability Report: “[Over the September quarter] the number of first home buyers increased to 36,687, an increase of 36.1 per cent during the quarter and compared to the September quarter 2019.

“First home buyers now make up 40.8 per cent of owner-occupier dwelling commitments, which is the highest since September 2009 where it reached 43.1 per cent.”

It is also the largest quarterly increase in first home ownership since 2010.

The boom in first home buyer comes as good news to those who have struggled for years to afford their own place, and also to state and federal governments whose moves, such as grants and incentives, to address the issue of housing unaffordability is clearly working.

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The federal government is also leaning on the real estate and construction industries to lead the way out of our COVID-19-enforced recession.

Record low interest rates and the stable market have been the main drivers of this welcome new first home buyer trend, according to REIA President Adrian Kelly, who pointed to a rise in housing affordability over the September quarter.

“This is particularly good news given the large challenges faced by tenants at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“The average loan size to first home buyers decreased to $406,223, a decrease of 5.4 per cent over the quarter, but an increase of 0.8 per cent over the past 12 months.”

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which allows first home buyers to purchase a home with as little as five per cent deposit and stamp duty exclusions and concessions have made the market more accessible.

However Mr Kelly said more could be done in other areas.

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“Banks could do more to further improve affordability by passing on in full interest cuts and help even more Australian’s buy homes,” he said.

According to the report: “The number of first home buyers increased in all states and territories over the September quarter 2020. The largest increase was in Queensland (62.2 per cent) and the smallest increase in the Australian Capital Territory (15.5 per cent). Compared to the corresponding quarter 2019, the number of first home buyers also increased in all states and territories, ranging from 26.3 per cent in Victoria to 53.5 per cent in Queensland.

“The average loan size to first home buyers decreased in all states and territories over the September quarter, ranging from a decrease of 1.4 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory to a decrease of 6.3 per cent in Victoria.

However the news was not so good for renters.

“In the September quarter 2020, rental affordability declined with the proportion of income required to meet rent payments increasing to 23.7 per cent, an increase of 0.4 percentage points over the quarter and an increase of 0.2 percentage points compared to the September quarter 2019,” the report read.

“Over the quarter, rental affordability declined in all states and territories except for Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory where there was an improvement.

“When compared to the September quarter 2019, rental affordability declined in all states and territories but remained stable in Tasmania and improved in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.”

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