Aussies poised, but in no hurry to buy

by Adam Smith15 Nov 2011

Aussie consumers have no plans to jump into the property market, even though savings are up and mortgage stress is down.

Those are the findings of the Commonwealth Bank/MFAA Home Finance Index for September. The survey indicated that only 16.9% of respondents are planning to buy a property in the next 12 months.

In spite of a wary view of the property market, household savings are up. More than a quarter of respondents said they were saving more than 20% of their take home earnings. The result was up from 21.8% who said they were saving in January.

Mortgage stress has eased as well. In September, even before the RBA rate cut, 78.3% of the survey's respondents said they were easily meeting their mortgage repayments. The result was up from 68.3% in May.

MFAA chief executive Phil Naylor said the poll showed consumers were in a position to act when confidence in the housing market returned.

"With a recent interest rate cut, high savings and low mortgage stress, prospective home buyers are in a relatively good position. Reticence about buying property seems linked to the perceived state of the economy, not to the personal financial state of consumers," he said.

Reticence may also have been exacerbated by the outlook for property prices. More than 46% of the survey's respondents said they expected house prices to fall in the next quarter, up from 20.9% in January.