Households in mortgage, rental stress top 4 million, and it’s likely to get worse

About 4 million Australian households were now impacted by some form of mortgage stress as people “spend” harder and reduce their savings, according to Digital Finance Analytics.

Mar 05, 2021, updated Mar 05, 2021
Mortgage and rental stress is on the rise. Photo: Ben White/Unsplash

Mortgage and rental stress is on the rise. Photo: Ben White/Unsplash

The company said despite record low-interest rates, mortgage stress was growing in Australia and now affecting 1.5 million owner-occupier households.

Adding to this is the 35 per cent of renters feeling the pinch and investment property stress at 26 per cent.

“In total, around 4 million households are being crunched in some way,” DFA said.

“People are spending harder now and draining their savings.

“Second, the number of people on principal and interest rate holidays from the banks has fallen as they restart some of their repayments.

“Third, we are weaning off JobKeeper and payment rates on JobKeeper are dropping as the extra support is withdrawn.

“Support ends at the end of March, so expect to see more of this.

“Finally, some have negotiated new loans at low rates, but others are not successful at this due to their credit history or taking a larger loan.

“It’s worth remembering that some new loans are being made at eight times income. This is a very high multiple even in the current low rate environment.”

The national mortgage stress rate rose from 39 per cent to 41 per cent in February and was against perceived expectations.

The increase means an extra 52,000 are now in mortgage stress.

In Queensland,  the rate was 37 per cent, which puts it behind all the other states with Tasmania the worst at 59 per cent.

Rental stress in Queensland was at 31 per cent, which was third highest in the country, and 25 per cent of investors were stressed. The combined level of stress for the state was just under 35 per cent which meant it was still behind the ACT, NSW and Victoria.

“Across the segments, young growing families and those on the urban fringe are most exposed. This includes many first time buyers, while more affluent households are also caught thanks often to (having) multiple investment properties,” DFA said.

“There was a significant rise in the high growth rate areas around Melbourne, as well as Toowoomba in Queensland and areas of NSW.”

It found 68 per cent of those on the urban fringe were facing mortgage stress and 38 per cent facing rental stress. DFA found 53 per cent of disadvantaged fringe owners were in mortgage stress and 34 per cent were in rental stress.

However, the young affluent had their own financial stresses

The least affected were those considered wealthy seniors and young affluent people.


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