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Australians staying a little longer

Australian homeowners are living in their properties an average 2.6 years longer than a decade ago, according to data from realestate.com.au, spending 10.6 years in houses and 9.5 years in units – up from eight and 6.9 years respectively in 2010.

The industry platform said this was not necessarily a matter of homeowners being more comfortable, with rising housing and transactional costs, as well as an ageing population, making a move infeasible for many.

That said, the data showed hold periods decreased in all capital cities except the Australian Capital Territory in May 2020, with realestate.com.au Executive Manager of Economic Research Cameron Kusher attributing this to low interest rates.

Camillo was the Perth suburb with the highest average hold period of 15.9 years, according to the data, up from 7.6 years in 2010.

LJ Hooker Thornlie & Canning Vale Licensee John Rechichi, who has dealt in the area for almost four decades, said although the number was higher than anticipated, it made sense given the cost of moving.

“You’ve got commission you’ve got to pay, then stamp duty, removal costs, settlement agent fees – it becomes an expensive exercise,” he said.

“Where they can, I’ve seen a lot of people renovate, which is another reason I think people are staying longer. They want a new, modern kitchen or a renovated bathroom.”

Mr Rechichi said the decline of the market had made it difficult for those who bought at the top.

“In a lot of cases, people would like to sell and move on because we like moving around as people in WA,” he said. “We want to go to different suburbs, get something newer, a smaller block or whatever it is.

“But it’s all about finance. And unfortunately, people who have bought in Camillo, Seville Grove or just about anywhere in WA in the last 10 years, might not get their money back.

“They might have lost their deposit. If they sell, they’re going to lose the equity they’ve got and they might have trouble buying.

“So, often it’s simply a case of not being able to afford to move.”

The story was the same a little under an hour away in Mandurah, where the average hold time was up from 8.3 years 10 years ago to 11.3 years today.

Di Prinzio Properties Director Sales Jules Di Prinzio said many people were simply trapped in their homes.

“Their mortgage has been set higher than value, and what that’s meant is people have been trapped, not being able to sell the home and just servicing the loan for all these years,” he said.

“It’s only been recently where we’re starting to see that thaw out. I’ve been selling what’s called short sales for many years now – where people have to find cash to settle, or transfer part of the mortgage across to another property, to get out of a property.

“It’s really held people back, literally not being able to sell their home because it’s devalued so much they can’t pay it out.”

That said, Mr Di Prinzio said Mandurah was also a lifestyle destination, so many people bought there for the long term.

“People tend to buy a lifestyle property and are quite happy with it,” he said. “Even if they change jobs or circumstances, they tend to be able to commute to everything around them easily.”

According to Mr Rechichi, recent upwards pressure on housing prices meant owners would soon be asking for more.

“It took five years for the prices to come down, because it’s a slow process,” he said. “But when they shoot up, it might be five years, it could be six months.

“That’s what I’ve experienced, and I’ve been here all this time. I know when the market’s going down it’s painful, but every month that seems to change, slowly. When the market goes up it can be a really big jump.”

Mr Di Prinzio agreed and said it was all in the nature of the cycle.

“I’ve done three property cycles now and every time there’s always this discussion about what happens next or why has this happened this time,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t see any changes to the cycle.

“Overall, the same patterns happen every time – an oversupply of property comes in and then that needs to be soaked up over a period of time.

“It’s just supply and demand.”

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