The key to home ownership for Gen Y


Over the last 25 years, home ownership rates have fallen sharply for young Australians.

Between 1982 and 2011, the home ownership rate for young adults aged 25 to 34 years dropped from 56 percent to 34 percent. Growing concerns about their home ownership prospects have prompted those in Generation Y (defined as 18-35 years for the purposes of this article) to become increasingly vocal about the difficulties of achieving home ownership.

This article draws on survey data from more than 4,300 respondents collected as part of the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Housing Affordability Report 2016. These findings highlight the housing affordability concerns of Generation Y.

The vast majority (86 percent) of Gen Y households living in the private rental sector or with their parents aspire to own a home, although not necessarily in the short term. Of these households, 30 percent believed they would be able to buy a home in the next two to five years. One-quarter believed home ownership was five to ten years away. Only 6% did not believe they would ever be able to buy a home.

Although many are choosing to delay home ownership as a lifestyle choice, others are forced to delay because of a lack of affordable housing options. Across all age groups, home owners were more likely to perceive their housing as affordable.

The survey reported that those living in unaffordable housing were making significant sacrifices to meet their housing costs. And 55 percent said sustaining high housing costs was leading to mental health issues, with those most affected in the private rental sector. This highlights the importance of affordable housing.

The ‘bank of mum and dad’

The deposit gap is the biggest barrier to home ownership. The survey calculated the average gap between the deposit currently available to an individual and the amount the individual expected to need for home purchase. This gap was around A$50,000.

Among Gen Ys already in home ownership, 38% reported they had received financial assistance from their parents or grandparents. For those yet to enter home ownership, only 17% expected to receive some assistance to buy. A further 24 percent indicated help might be offered.

Therefore, almost 60 percent of Gen Ys surveyed are unlikely to receive the benefit of intergenerational assistance. This may prevent them from ever entering home ownership.