Fears over unemployment have seen homebuyer confidence drop to its lowest level since 2008.
The Genworth Homebuyer Confidence Index has seen a 5.1% decrease since September 2012, with a 42% increase in the proportion of borrowers who anticipate mortgage stress over the next 12 months. Genworth chief commercial officer Bridget Sakr told Australian Broker the decline was fuelled by fears over employment stability.
"There is concern among the people we've surveyed around job security," she said.
But this doesn't mean homeowners are in trouble yet, Sakr said.
"What you've got to be mindful of is the fact that Australians, since the GFC, have been paying off debt wherever they can. They've been paying their mortgages at the same rate they were previous to the decline of interest rates, so there is potentially a buffer there," she said.
Part of the problem, Sakr said, is negative perceptions about the economy.
"Of those surveyed, 82% said they weren't behind in repayments. Of those that were behind, 13% were behind by one month, and that's down from 17% [in September]," she said.
And in spite of consumer negativity, optimism about the housing market persists.
"Forty-seven per cent said now was a good time to buy. That's come down slightly from September, but it's still much higher than it was 12 months ago," Sakr said.