Nearly half of Australian homeowners are under mortgage stress, with 45% of households spending more than they are earning.
The news came following the Reserve Bank’s decision to lift the national interest rate for the fourth consecutive month on Tuesday by 50 basis points to 1.85% in an attempt to curb inflation.
Numbers crunched by Martin North of Digital Finance Analytics for A Current Affair revealed Chipping Norton in New South Wales as the most mortgage-stressed postcode in the country, with 12,713 households in a stressed state.
This was followed by Tapping in Western Australia with 10,918 households deemed under stress, then by Narre Warren South in Victoria with 10,307, and Toowoomba in Queensland with 10,040 households.
Paralowie in South Australia has 6,870 households under mortgage stress, while Riverside in Tasmania has 5,141. In the ACT, Amaroo has 3,998 households with mortgage stress, and Stuart in the Northern Territory has 2,167.
“If you go back a couple of decades, we had around 10% or 15% of households in mortgage stress,” North told A Current Affair. “Before the global financial crisis, we got to about 32% of households. But then it accelerated during COVID and now we’ve hit a really remarkable level.”
Data showed that Australia’s first-home buyers were the most at-risk demographic.
“First-home buyers are actually the highest proportion of households in mortgage stress at the moment,” North told the publication. “That's because they've got the biggest mortgages and they've got the least buffers.”
Experts said that for homeowners who were feeling the sting of rising rates, there were options to avoid defaulting on their loan.
“Breathe and do a simple budget to ensure you can allocate all your essential expenses,” Shungu Patiska, a financial counsellor with the National Debt Helpline, told A Current Affair. “Once you've done that, speak to your creditors and ask for assistance such as repayment holidays.”