Mortgage comfort at all-time high, optimism near record low

by Adam Smith23 Jan 2013

Australians are more comfortable than ever with their mortgage payments and are looking to save in the year ahead, but their economic optimism has plunged

The ING Direct Financial Wellbeing Index has found that a record 64% of Australians say they are "very comfortable" with their mortgage. Ninety-three per cent rated themselves as at least "comfortable" with making mortgage payments, and 49% say they are ahead in their payments.
Along with the easing mortgage stress, the study found that savings targets are up. A third of households plan to save more in 2013 than in 2012, and are targeting three months of income. Given median incomes in Australia, ING Direct executive director customer John Arnott said the average savings target would be $15,200.
"A target of $15,200 is a lot of money but it represents 3 months of average income and to have that sort of buffer in cash savings is a good thing for peace of mind," Arnott said.
But another study has found that, in spite of easing mortgage pressures, Australians have a grim outlook on the future of the economy. The Allianz Future Optimism Index has slipped to a near-record low. While falling interest rates have been a boon to mortgage holders, Allianz Australia managing director Niran Peiris said older Australians have been hit hard by RBA cuts.
"The fall in optimism about the future of the economy has been particularly apparent among Australians aged 65 and older. The survey has traditionally found senior Australians to be more optimistic than most other age groups, however, the impact of falling interest rates on investment incomes appears to be taking a toll on their optimism. Optimism among senior Australians has slumped twice in the last 12 months, on both occasions following Reserve Bank reductions in the cash rate," Peiris said.
Peiris said optimism overall hit its second-lowest point, having bottomed out following the Federal Budget last May.