Australia has some of the highest average house prices in the world, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reporting house prices are still “very high relative to rents and incomes”. The comments suggest the possibility of further falls. The OECD Economic Outlook released in Paris puts Australia near the top for economic growth this year, but warns the negative effects of the mining boom may hurt the property market.
Meanwhile, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute reports there’s a growing group of home-owners who are only just able to service their mortgages. 43 per cent of mortgage holders surveyed have chosen to redraw on their equity for “pressing financial needs”. The research suggests that Australia is moving to a housing-based welfare system, with the family home becoming much more than a place to sleep, but also a form of financial security, especially during retirement.
And the number of residential vacancies increased during the month of April reports SQM Research. The national vacancy rate rose to 1.8 per cent in April, a 0.1 per cent increase month-on-month, but stayed the same year on year. Darwin was the only capital to record a decline and Melbourne the only capital city to record a vacancy rate above 3 per cent.
What is apartment living really like and how does it compare to living in a free standing house? Well, more than half of owners in strata titled properties have fallen out with their neighbours. The most common disputes involve parking, noise and breaking by-laws according to the University of NSW’s City Futures centre. Almost 40 per cent of those surveyed say they’ve had problems with the management of their strata scheme, mostly about expensive repairs. Building faults is also an area where owners tend to get a little hot under the collar. 85 per cent of owners reported at least one building defect for new buildings. The majority had trouble getting the repairs done because the developer or builder had gone bankrupt or decided to delay the repairs needed.