September 25, 2012
Australians who purchased their first home in the last two years claim that soaring utility bills and fears over job security are their greatest financial concerns. These are the findings from the Mortgage Choice 2012 Recent First Homeowner Survey of more than 900 Australian new first homeowners.
Almost one third of recent first homeowners (32%) said that increasing utility bills, and the impact this may have on their ability to repay their home loan, was their greatest concern for 2012. This comes at a time when utility bills have risen nationally by approximately 10% over the year to June*.
The Mortgage Choice research also found a marked difference between genders in levels of concern for rising utility bills, with 38% of women rating this as their top concern compared to 24% of men.
After utility bills, recent first homeowners were most concerned about job security, at 15% of respondents. This has more than doubled since 2011, when only 7% of participants listed this as their main issue. The results suggest that fears of a prolonged economic slowdown are affecting the confidence of recent first homeowners in relation to retaining their job.
Interest rates were the third most topical issue following job security. In 2011, almost half (47%) of the survey's respondents said that interest rate movements were their greatest concern. However, with increased speculation of another cash rate cut by the Reserve Bank this year, this number has fallen in 2012 to 13%.
Mortgage Choice spokesperson Belinda Williamson said, “Soaring utility bills and fears of an economic slowdown have been big news this year and our research shows that recent first homeowners are, like many people, monitoring the situation very closely.”
“It is no surprise that interest rate movements are at present less of a concern than last year. If they do fall further as many are speculating, it could help homeowners claw back some of the money spent on rising utility bills and other living costs.”
The annual Mortgage Choice survey revealed that in 2012 more than half (57%) of recent first homeowners had saved for two years or more. This is a turnaround from 2011, when the majority (56%) had saved for two years or less.
This year's survey also found that 31% of recent first homeowners had been looking for a property for longer than 12 months, however the corresponding figure for 2011 was only 25%.
Ms Williamson commented, “In comparison to last year's survey results, recent first homeowners have taken their time, with the majority saving longer for their deposit and more spending an increased amount of time looking for their ideal home.”
“This trend is likely to be a result of a number of factors, most notably Australians' growing penchant to save and buyers' reluctance to jump into the market quickly when property prices were still falling and further rate cuts were on the cards. We would expect that some buyers held off buying to take advantage of these favourable conditions and used the time wisely to save an even greater deposit.”
* 6401.0 - Consumer Price Index, Australia
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Mortgage Choice Corporate Affairs
02 8907 0472 / 0407 416 124
02 9018 8608 / 0404 381 886