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Homeownership then and now | The West Australian

A lot has changed since 1980 when Blondie was topping the charts, with recent research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies showing how the Australian dream of owning your own home increased and then fell back down.

The Housing report released in July is part of the Families Then and Now project, and shows that the proportion of households who owned their residence outright increased from 33 per cent in 1981 to 41 per cent in 1991 but has declined since 2001. The proportion was 31 per cent in 2016.

The number of households owning their home either outright or with a mortgage increased from 66 per cent in 1981 to 69 per cent in 1991 but fell to 65 per cent in 2016.

More households are renting as well, from 25 per cent in 1981 to 31 per cent by 2016, after a period of relative stability between 1991 and 2001.

“One of the main findings was that fewer young people have a mortgage or own their home outright at an early age,” Housing Co-Author and Australian Institute of Family Studies Senior Research Fellow Diana Warren said.

“That is related to housing costs of course, as the average weekly housing costs have gone up substantially over that time.”

Across all age groups, the proportion of people who owned their own home without or with a mortgage increased with age.

However, the fall in homeownership was particularly apparent in younger age groups.

The proportion of people in their early 30s owning their home with or without a mortgage fell by 23 percentage points, from 64 per cent in 1981 to 41 per cent in 2016.

Most Australians still live in a standalone home, according to the research, with 72 per cent of the market share, while apartments, townhouses and other higher density developments clocked in at 26 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, the report found the cost of buying a home had increased over the last two decades and as a result, rent and mortgage payments have also increased.

For households paying off a mortgage, the average weekly payment was quite stable in the late 1990s, before increasing substantially between 2000 and 2008, in line with the increase in the value of dwellings, according to the report.

The report also showed that compared to other types of families, more families with young children lived in a standalone house, and single-parent families experienced the highest average housing costs as a percentage of their gross income relative to all household types.

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