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Required Household Income To Stay Below Mortgage Stress Level
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The mortgage stress threshold
A home loan repayment is typically the largest household expense per month. Finder’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker shows that the average monthly repayment is over $1900 in Australia in 2023, up from a low of almost $1400 in April 2022.
Mortgage stress is typically defined as a household paying more than 30% of their pre-tax monthly income in mortgage repayments. When households exceed that threshold, it means they will need to lower their standard of living by cutting down on expenses in other areas, and that they will be vulnerable to increasing interest rates.
Finder’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker shows that Aussies consistently report mortgage payments as the most stressful monthly bill. In April 63% of Aussies with a home loan reported their monthly repayment as stressful from a low of 37% in April 2021.
The effect of interest rate increases on housing affordability
A monthly home loan repayment is always made up of a payment on the principal and an interest payment. The chart below shows the relative levels of both components over the last 12 years.
Pre COVID-19 (2009 to 2020)
From the global financial crisis up to 2014, Australian households have generally seen the interest charged every month slowly decrease and then stay flat. However, a steady increase in home prices after 2014 has seen the principal repayment component steadily increase as well.
During COVID-19 (2020-2022)
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a rapid surge in the principal paid by households. At the same time, interest payments reached 10 year lows as the RBA decreased the cash rate to historic lows of just 0.1%. As home prices continued to soar, household principal payments remained high for the duration of the pandemic.
Post COVID-19 (2022-23)
However, currently Aussie households are facing pressures from both components. Home prices are still close to their record highs and interest rates having rapidly increased since May of 2022. This has meant record highs for the principal and interest components of their monthly mortgage bill.
We can see the the pressure of rising interest rates as excess payments on housing loans have plunged to 16% of the total monthly loan repayments, as interest payments have increased to 48%.
Minimum income over time in Australia
Finder’s data shows that the minimum income required to buy a home is at its highest in 10 years all around Australia. Aussies need at least a $100,000 salary to afford the average home loan in each state. New South Wales is the least affordable, requiring $193,340 on the average loan size in that state, and the Northern Territory the most affordable at $118,568.
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