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Australians are moving house less often

John McGrath
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

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Australian home owners are staying at the same address for longer than ever before, with a new report showing the average length of ownership for both houses and apartments is rising rapidly.

According to CoreLogic, house owners are staying put for four years longer than they did a decade ago. Apartment owners are keeping their properties for three years more than the 2009 average.

Nationally, the length of ownership has risen to 11.3 years for houses and 9.6 years for apartments. This has been an ongoing trend since 2005 and is happening in parallel with a declining number of sales per year.

I think the No 1 reason people are staying put longer is the high transition costs of moving house.

Upgrading families in major cities are paying close to $100,000 in fees and taxes. That doesn’t include the additional purchase price or borrowings – it’s basically just to make the move. Most of that $100,000 is the absurd cost of stamp duty, which is nowadays out of touch with reality.   

Take a look at the stats. According to CoreLogic, the average hold period for houses is highest in Sydney and Melbourne at about 12-and-a-half years. Back in 2009, Sydney and Melbourne houses were turning over about every nine years.

These are Australia’s two most expensive markets, which implies a connection between high and rising costs of housing and how often people are willing to move.

Firstly, rising property prices have a bearing on borrowing capacity. Some people simply can’t borrow enough, based on their earnings, to upgrade to a larger home at today’s market values.

Secondly and more importantly, rising property prices also impact transition costs. The higher your purchase price, the higher your stamp duty, so upgraders are the worst affected.

Let’s take a look at the tenure periods for cities and regional areas and how far they’ve increased over the past 10 years.

Greater Sydney

Average house ownership: 12.4 years in 2019 compared to 9 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.6 years in 2019 compared to 7.3 years in 2009

Rest of NSW

Average house ownership: 10.5 years in 2019 compared to 7.7 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.2 years in 2019 compared to 6.8 years in 2009

Greater Melbourne

Average house ownership: 12.5 years in 2019 compared to 8.7 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.3 years in 2019 compared to 7.1 years in 2009 

Rest of Victoria

Average house ownership: 11.1 years in 2019 compared to 8.5 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.8 years in 2019 compared to 7.7 years in 2009 

Greater Brisbane

Average house ownership: 11.3 years in 2019 compared to 7 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.8 years in 2019 compared to 5.8 years in 2009

Rest of Queensland

Average house ownership: 11.1 years in 2019 compared to 6.5 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.8 years in 2019 compared to 5.9 years in 2009

Australian Capital Territory

Average house ownership: 10.9 years in 2019 compared to 7.1 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 8.7 years in 2019 compared to 6.4 years in 2009

Greater Adelaide

Average house ownership: 10.1 years in 2019 compared to 6.1 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.6 years in 2019 compared to 5.7 years in 2009

Rest of South Australia

Average house ownership: 10.8 years in 2019 compared to 6 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.9 years in 2019 compared to 5.9 years in 2009

Greater Perth

Average house ownership: 11 years in 2019 compared to 6.2 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 10.8 years in 2019 compared to 5.9 years in 2009

Rest of Western Australia

Average house ownership: 10.9 years in 2019 compared to 5.7 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 10.2 years in 2019 compared to 5.5 years in 2009

Greater Hobart

Average house ownership: 10.9 years in 2019 compared to 7.6 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.6 years in 2019 compared to 7 years in 2009

Rest of TAS

Average house ownership: 10.7 years in 2019 compared to 7.4 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.1 years in 2019 compared to 7.2 years in 2009

Greater Darwin

Average house ownership: 9.2 years in 2019 compared to 4 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 9.5 years in 2019 compared to 4 years in 2009

Rest of Northern Territory

Average house ownership: 8.9 years in 2019 compared to 4.5 years in 2009

Average apartment ownership: 8 years in 2019 compared to 3.9 years in 2009

Source: CoreLogic

Breaking the data down further into council areas, the top 10 list of areas for longest ownership is dominated by Melbourne, Sydney and regional Queensland.

Longest ownership of houses by council area

1.     Monash, VIC 17.1 years

2.     Queenscliffe, VIC 16.6 years

3.     Whitehorse, VIC 16.2 years

4.     Hornsby, NSW 16.2 years

5.     Manningham, VIC 16.2 years

6.     Hinchinbrook, QLD 16 years

7.     Knox, VIC 15.7 years

8.     Canada Bay, NSW 15.7 years

9.     Banyule, VIC 15.6 years

10.  Blackall-Tambo, QLD 15.6 years

 Longest ownership of apartments by council area

1.     Armadale, WA 13.4 years

2.     Swan Hill, VIC 13.4 years

3.     Albany, WA 13.1 years

4.     Cassowary Coast, QLD, 12.8 years

5.     Wangaratta, VIC 12.7 years

6.     South Burnett, QLD 12.7 years

7.     Tablelands, QLD 12.6 years

8.     Bayswater, WA 12.5 years

9.     Mosman Park, WA 12.4 years

10.  Colac-Otway, VIC 12.3 years

Source: CoreLogic

Stamp duty is the issue that nobody wants to talk about in Government, on either side. It rakes in too much money for them. So, the unfortunate reality is that home buyers, particularly in Australia’s highest priced markets, must carefully factor the costs of moving into their purchasing budgets.

Commonly, people add the stamp duty cost to the borrowings for their new home and pay it off over several years.

Those who can’t afford these transition costs will simply stay put, with many preferring to put their savings or available equity into renovating and creating the space they need instead of moving.

Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2019


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