Proof young people are finally growing up

SMASHED avocado-obsessed young Aussies are snapping up more homes at record levels - but some experts reckon it's just a flash in the pan.

Astonishing figures from CommSec show a four-year high for first home buyers taking out housing loans - despite house prices rocketing in recent years.

Perhaps they are taking advice from demographer Bernard Salt or real estate mogul Tim Gurner and putting their hard earned cash towards a deposit rather than pricey avocado-spread toast at hipster cafes.

Stamp duty reductions from the NSW and Victorian governments have also been linked with the surge and Sydney's house prices have dropped for the first time in 17 months while stats show the number of loans to first time buyers have increased by 39 per cent from last year.

The number of first-time buyers has shot up this year. Source: ABS, CommSec.
The number of first-time buyers has shot up this year. Source: ABS, CommSec.

Senior economist at CommSec, Ryan Felsman, said the strong increases showed that more and more Generation Y and 'millennials' were gaining access to the Australian housing market for the first time.

"Young Aussies keen to move out of home have been saving hard and been ably assisted by stamp duty reductions from the NSW and Victorian governments," he said.

"More loans are being taken out to buy or build homes and a key reason is the incentives being offered by various state governments to first home buyers."

As a result, real estate agents and developers now have young people firmly in their sights - in Brisbane, LME Capital's Neil Sherington was offering free avocado on toast for a year with $595,000 townhouses.

Stamp duty reductions are seen as a short-term fix by some experts.
Stamp duty reductions are seen as a short-term fix by some experts.

However, a senior economist at ANZ, Daniel Gradwell, said the stamp duty reductions was just "kicking the can further down the road" and would do nothing to address housing affordability.

"It's great news for people who want to take advantage of these stamp duty discounts," he said.

"But, we do have some reservations over this policy. Over the longer run, essentially what we're doing is putting more money back into the housing system.

"So, you're bringing forward the purchase of housing for a number of people. When you're just putting more money into the system without any other policies in place to really increase the supply of affordable housing, you're just pushing the price of existing housing up even further.

"So we see that over the longer term these stamp duty discounts aren't doing anything to alleviate those affordability issues that younger people are facing."

Reductions in stamp duty are only for those buying in NSW and Victoria.
Reductions in stamp duty are only for those buying in NSW and Victoria.

He said governments would have to keep the policies in place or continue to increase them to encourage first time buyers to enter the market.

Mr Felsman agreed that affordability was not being addressed, but said the figures at least showed that young people were getting a look into the market.

"It's a promising trend," he said. "We have seen some cooling off of house prices, particularly in Sydney so that may be translating to better outcomes for first time buyers. Maybe it's given them some confidence to enter the market as prices peaked."

A strong job market and low unemployment, which is at a four-year low, are also "key ingredients" in the spike.

"With a better job market and less job insecurity for young people, this translates to better outcomes, better confidence and financial security to take out a mortgage," Mr Felsman said.

Low unemployment and a strong job market is helping young Aussies buy their first home.
Low unemployment and a strong job market is helping young Aussies buy their first home.

The report also showed that more homes were being built and demand remained firm.

"We expect the housing market to experience a soft landing, and so far the evidence from key industry participants such as Lend lease, Mirvac and Stockland shows this to be the case," Mr Felsman said.

But, according to Mr Gradwell, the only way to tackle affordability in the housing market was to build more homes.

"There are many different ways you can look at affordability, but we always come back to the supply issue," he said.

"We know that population growth in Australia has been absolutely booming for the last 10 or maybe 15 years now and we find that the construction of housing really hasn't kept up.

"Housing investment has started to increase over the last couple of years - we know that we've got a pretty good increase now.

"But, all that's really doing is scratching at the surface of this underlying shortage of housing that we've built up over the last decade. "



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