Where did all the first home buyers go?

Angus Kidman 6 October 2016

FirstShedBuyer_Shutterstock

Revised statistics show there are even fewer people buying their first home than we thought.

It's tough trying to buy your first home. Property prices are high, lenders are often tardy in passing on interest cuts, competition with investors is increasingly fierce, and in many cases it just seems easier to rent. Now the numbers show that it's even harder than we believed.

In an unusual move, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revised its figures covering the number of first home buyers for the past four years. The differences are quite large in some cases. For instance, the original estimated number of first home buyers for November 2015 was 9,147. The revised figure is 7,882 -- a drop of 13.8%. The chart below shows the original and revised numbers:

ABS bashing has been popular because of the census debacle this year, but in this case the revisions are because the lenders themselves have supplied better data than they had originally handed over. In what might be viewed as an ironic twist, this came to light because the ABS realised that some banks were only supplying data for first home buyers who had qualified for first home owner grants. Not all first home buyers fall into this category, and this omission could have led to under-reporting. However, in the process of making those adjustments, it also turned out that much of the originally supplied data wasn't as accurate as it could be.

Using the revised numbers, in the first seven months of this year, an average of 7,966 new home purchases were made each month. That's down on 2015, where the average was 8,516. That reinforces the idea that buying a new home is indeed getting tougher, and requires careful planning and saving. Seems real estate really wasn't meant to be easy.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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