Business

Deposit, salary stymie Aussie millennials' home ownership dreams

Home ownership levels among Australian millennials are lower than their peers in the US, Canada and Britain, a survey by HSBC has found.

Just 28 per cent of Australian millennials own a home, only marginally higher than their peers in the United Arab Emirates (26 per cent), and significantly lower than millennials in Mexico, who have one of the highest rates of home ownership (46 per cent), according to the report which surveyed 9000 people in nine countries.

The Big Bubble

It's not that millennials -  defined here as people born between 1981 and 1998 - wouldn't like to buy a home, with 83 per cent of those surveyed telling HSBC they intend to buy in the next five years.

But by far the biggest challenge to buying a home is saving enough money for a deposit, cited by 75 per cent of millennials, according to the report.

"Despite the rising costs, millennials overwhelming still want to own a home in Australia. The dream certainly isn't dead," HSBC head of mortgages Alice Del Vecchio said.

Linked to the first hurdle, the second-biggest barrier to owning a home was having an insufficient salary to save, with 61 per cent saying they needed a higher salary before they could buy a home. A key problem in post-mining boom Australia has been anaemic wage growth as the economy adjusts to regain global competitiveness.

Contributing to the low rate of home ownership may be that the "Bank of Mum and Dad" is less likely to help out in Australia than in other countries.

While on average 36 per cent of millennials have received help from their parents, just 30 per cent of Australians have tapped that source.

Millennials who overspent on their home purchase. Photo: HSBC

The survey also found that just 17 per cent of Aussie millennials have a precise house buying budget in place, while nearly half of those who have bought a house overspent on their original budget.

"This research demonstrates that a lack of preparation and understanding of the realities of owning real estate however can stall or even deflate those dreams," Ms Del Vecchio said.

Barriers to millennial home ownership. Photo: HSBC

Australia's east coast property market has rocketed in the past five years as the central bank slashed interest rates to support the economy's transition from mining to services and manufacturing. On top of cheap cash fuelling demand, domestic investors seeking a decent return and taking advantage of tax breaks have been snapping up properties, while foreign buyers, particularly Chinese, looking to park their cash offshore have supercharged the market.

The record-low cash rate of 1.5 per cent has provided little help to savers; in addition, the speed with which prices have risen has made it particularly difficult to nail down a deposit. Since 2009, house prices in Sydney have more than doubled and Melbourne has similarly surged. 

Budget setting among millennials intending to buy. Photo: HSBC

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe noted on Tuesday that in the past 12 months household debt - mainly mortgages - had increased 6.5 per cent compared to a 3 per cent gain in household income.

A Deloitte report earlier this year found Australian millennials were particularly pessimistic about their prospects: just 8 per cent expected to be better off financially than their mum and dad, compared with a global figure of 26 per cent; even worse, only 4 per cent of Aussies reckoned they'd be happier than their parents, versus 23 per cent internationally.

Counterintuitively, given Australia had its last recession in 1991, none of this generation of Australians have lived through a slump; indeed, the youngest adults in the workforce when it happened would be approaching their mid-forties this year.

with Bloomberg