Local real estate agents are questioning the relevance to the Northern Rivers property market of a new report stating the financial capacity of people to buy a home is at its best level since 2003.
Local real estate agents are questioning the relevance to the Northern Rivers property market of a new report stating the financial capacity of people to buy a home is at its best level since 2003.

Agents question new figures

THE financial capacity of people to buy a home is at its best level since 2003, according to a report from real estate observer Rismark.

In a finding that flies in the face of current beliefs, the report states that Australia's average dwelling price-to-disposable household income ratio fell from its peak of 4.7 times inDecember 2009 to just 4.2 times in the March quarter of this year.

The findings are based on Bureau of Statistics data, combined with figures from the residential database of RP Data, which captures all home sales across the country.

The results will be welcomed by prospective buyers, Rismark managing director Christopher Joye said.

Agents on the Northern Rivers agreed that houses had become more affordable in recent times, but said it was more likely a result of vendors “meeting the market” in order to achieve a sale, rather than increases in people's incomes.

Peter Brown, principal of Wal Murray Lismore, said he didn't think the gap “was different from last year or the year before”.

In his area prices had come down “a fraction because the current market is a little depressed”, which made them more affordable, he said.

“I don't think incomes in this area have changed a lot in the last 12 months.”

Morag Page, of George & Furhmann Bangalow, agreed.

“I don't think that is reflected in this area. An awful lot of people in our area are self-employed and the GFC has slowed up a lot of them.

“The building industry slowed so a lot of tradies are finding it hard to get work. And looking at small businesses in the past six months, we see empty shops and so forth. So I don't believe we have seen incomes go up at all – unless they're government tied or an indexed pension.”

Ms Page said the macadamia ind-ustry had experienced three tough seasons in a row and the effect of that meant reduced employment and purchasing of farm equipment.

“It's not all doom and gloom,” she said. “The banks may be tightening the purse strings, but it's still a very desirable place to live here.”



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