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First home buyers and the property ladder

Climbing the property ladder – it is a term used to depict a consumer’s ability to enter the market on the first rung of affordability, climb the ladder over time through capital growth and finish at the top of the ladder in the ultimate luxurious and expensive property.

Property is a long term game, slow and steady wins the race however with regards to the current economic climate, the property ladder for the majority of first home buyers is akin to climbing Mount Everest.

Melbourne’s median apartment price for the June 2015 quarter was $443,549; for a first home buyer this equates to having saved a 10% deposit of $44,354.90 or $34,354.90 when taking into consideration the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) of $10,000.

The FHOG scheme was introduced on the 1st of July 2000 to offset the effect of GST on home ownership. It is a national scheme funded by the states and territories and administered under their own legislation. A purchaser must live in the property for 12 months continuously within 12 months of settlement.

Capital growth within Melbourne property markets has meant that even with the assistance of the FHOG, purchasers are having to manage not only their budgets but their product and location expectations. The ability to stay in the family home in order to accumulate a 10% deposit is proving a race against time, the speed at which parents are downsizing is outpacing the rate at which their children can save.

So what and where does $443,549 buy you right now in Melbourne?

It varies considerably: from a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom and car park in Footscray, a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom and car park in Maribyrnong, a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom and car park in Collingwood, 1 bedroom 1 bathroom and stacker in Windsor, 1 bedroom 1 bathroom with no car space in South Yarra, 2 bed 1 bathroom and car park in Cheltenham to a 2 bed 2 bathroom and car park in Bundoora.

With the exception of Footscray, the location or rather the distance to Melbourne’s CBD has a direct impact on affordability.

Looking a little deeper into the demographics, we at My Real Estate Mate are seeing 90% of all first home owner demand coming from younger females in the 25-35 age bracket with budgets of $420,000 to $500,000. By way of comparison, the enquiry from males is a slightly older demographic between the ages of 32 and 40 with nominated budgets are lower in the $380,000 to $450,000 range.

The top five first home buyer enquiry suburbs, year-to-date 2015:

  1. Albert Park
  2. St Kilda
  3. Hawthorn
  4. South Yarra
  5. South Melbourne

Location desire versus budget reality: the common demand theme is Bayside and inner East/South East. It is conceivable that managing enquiry expectations from a $443,549 property in Albert Park to a more affordable price point in say Cheltenham, comes down to accepting that the suburb a first home buyer can afford to purchase in - without having a negative impact on day-to-day lifestyle - is located two to four suburbs from their desired location.

Climbing the property ladder in Melbourne is achievable and to climb the first rung is to alter your location expectations. Melbourne is the world’s most liveable city in the luckiest country in the world, time will tell for how much longer we remain affordable.

Cameron Clarke is principal and founder of My Real Estate Mate and the Apartment Register brand.

Lead image credit: Wikipedia

1 comment

Marcio Wilges's picture

Playing in the property market isn't cheap either, so as much as you'd like to speculate and flip houses or buy and rent them out, you have to first ensure that you can afford and pay off your current home before you look into house removals and up or downgrading so you can make profit off your home.

Marcio Wilges

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