Young people want to afford homes: superannuation study

Angus Livingston
(Australian Associated Press)

Whether the answer is axing negative gearing or using superannuation to buy property, young Australians say they just want to be able to afford a house.

Home ownership among young Australians has rapidly declined since 2001, the latest statistics from the University of Melbourne’s long-term HILDA study show, while incomes have flatlined.

Professor Roger Wilkins authored the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey and says people aged 18 to 39 aspire to buy homes, but can’t afford them.

“It’s creating a lot of negative sentiment among people in this age group,” Prof Wilkins told AAP.

“The attitude is they would like to be buying homes and they are finding it much more difficult.”

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar says the government’s First Home Super Saver Scheme would allow young people to save for a house deposit using their superannuation.

“This will allow first home buyers to accelerate their savings by up to 30 per cent,” Mr Sukkar said on Wednesday.

The government is also releasing more commonwealth land for new housing developments.

But shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the government was still propping up rich investors who use negative gearing to inflate house prices while buying multiple properties.

“They need to be called to account for this weak defence of unfair tax concessions that favour property investors, distort the housing market and keep home ownership beyond the reach of a whole generation of renters,” Mr Bowen said.

HILDA surveys the same 17,000 people every year as part of Australia’s longest-running population study.

It found home ownership among 18 to 39-year-olds has declined rapidly since 2001, from 36 per cent down to 25 per cent in 2015.

Prof Wilkins says young people may never live in their own property if the housing market stays unaffordable.

“That will have implications for their wellbeing, particularly in retirement, having to pay market rents,” he said.

“Currently well over 80 per cent of retirees own their home, which makes things a lot easier when your income declines.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said low wages were partly why young people were struggling.

“Children are falling into poverty, the cost of living has skyrocketed, inequality is rife and ordinary household incomes are falling,” she said.


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