Limited capital city housing options under $200,000

With housing affordability surging back onto the election radar as part of the taxation reform debate, in this week’s Pulse we take a look at the cost of housing across the nation.

Following recent policy announcements by the Federal Opposition, housing related issues such as affordability have come onto the political agenda.  Whether Labor’s policies would actually improve housing affordability, especially without supply and infrastructure reforms, remains to be seen.  Nevertheless the following piece looks at affordability by analysing median house and unit values into bands across Australia’s suburbs in order to get a deeper look at the cost of housing.

House values tend to be more expensive in capital cities than in regional areas. This is highlighted by the fact that 51.2% of regional suburbs have a median value of between $200,000 and $400,000 compared to 15.4% of capital city suburbs. Similarly just 0.6% of capital city suburbs have a median house value of less than $200,000 compared to 13.1% of regional suburbs. There is no value band that shows a clear majority across the combined capital cities however, the 33.1% of suburbs with a median value of between $400,000 and $600,000 is the band with the greatest share of suburbs.

Suburb median house value bands, capital cities vs. regional areas, Dec-15

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Across the unit markets, the greatest share of suburbs both across the capital cities and in regional areas have a median value between $200,000 and $400,000. There is a large difference between the two in that 71.4% of regional suburbs have a median unit value of between $200,000 and $400,000 compared to 41.2% of suburbs in the capital cities. Again when we look at the most affordable suburbs there is a large difference, just 1.7% of capital city suburbs have a median unit value of less than $200,000 compared to 13.3% across regional Australia. 

Suburb median unit value bands, capital cities vs. regional areas, Dec-15

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Focusing solely on the data across the capital cities really highlights just how expensive Sydney is relative to other cities.
For houses, 25.3% of Sydney suburbs have a median value of between $1 million and $1.5 million making it the largest single value band for the city. Across the other capital cities the value band with the greatest proportion of suburb median values is $400,000 to $600,000 with the only other exceptions Hobart ($200,000 to $400,000) and Darwin ($600,000 to $800,000). Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin have no suburbs with a median house value of less than $200,000. In Sydney, 47.8% of suburbs have a median house value of more than $1 million compared to 20.5% in Melbourne, 2.6% in Brisbane, 3.8% in Adelaide and 12.9% in Perth.

Suburb median house value bands across capital cities, Dec-15

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It is a similar story for capital city unit markets with 33.1% of Sydney suburbs having a median unit value of between $600,000 and $800,000 making it the largest band for the city. In most other capitals, the highest proportion of suburbs have a median unit value of between $200,000 and $400,000 with the exception of Melbourne and Perth (both $400,000 to $600,000). As with house values, no suburbs in Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin have a median unit value of less than $200,000. 8.8% of Sydney suburbs have a median unit value of more than $1 million compared to 0.3% in Melbourne, 0.4% in Brisbane, 0.0% in Adelaide and 0.9% in Perth.

Suburb median unit value bands across capital cities, Dec-15

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The data shows that particularly in our larger capital cities there is a critical undersupply of affordable housing options (even in the unit market). As a result an increasing number of residents are being locked out of home ownership or are being forced to purchase outside of the cities. Remember that although job prospects are generally better in the larger capital cities the difference in average wages across the capital cities is nowhere near as large as the differences in home values.