Home ownership in Australia

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An Old English-style family home in suburban Sydney.

Home ownership in Australia is considered a key cultural icon,[1] and part of the Australian tradition known as the Great Australian Dream of "owning a detached house on a fenced block of land."[1][2] Home ownership has been seen as creating a responsible citizenry; according to a former Premier of Victoria: "The home owner feels that he has a stake in the country, and that he has something worth working for, living for, fighting for."[3]

In 2016 there were about 9.0 million private dwellings in Australia, each with, on average, 2.6 occupants.[4] About 70% of dwellings were owner-occupied[5] — one of the largest proportions of any country. The remainder were rented dwellings. About half of the owner-occupied dwellings were under mortgage.[5]

Australian governments have encouraged broad-scale home ownership through tax incentives,[citation needed] although mortgage interest is not tax deductible as, for example, in the United States. The owner-occupied residential home is not subject to the capital gains tax on sale and is not counted in the assets test for Centrelink pension purposes. It is also not taxed for land tax or other property tax.

In the past, home ownership has been a sort of equalizing factor; in postwar Australia, immigrant Australians could often buy homes as quickly as native-born Australians.[2] Additionally, Australian suburbs have been more socio-economically mixed than those in America and to a lesser extent Britain. In Melbourne, for instance, one early observer noted that "a poor house stands side by side with a good house."[2]

There are significant regional differences in rates of homeownership around Australia, reflecting average age differences (eg., older age people tend to own houses more than younger people), as well as socio-economic differences.


In the 2009–10 Survey of Income and Housing, it was found that an estimated 33% of households owned their homes outright (i.e. without a mortgage) and 36% were owners with a mortgage. A further 24% were renting from a private landlord and 4% were renting from a state or territory housing authority.[5]

Between June 1996 and June 2010, the proportion of households without a mortgage declined from 43% to 33%, while the proportion with a mortgage rose from 28% to 36%.[5] Since 1995–96, the proportion of households renting from state/territory housing authorities has declined slightly while the proportion renting privately increased from 19% to 24% in 2009–10. While a greater proportion of all renting households are renting from private landlords, there is an increased number of private renters receiving Commonwealth rent assistance.[5][6]

Home ownership in Australia decreased to 67% in 2011, the lowest level in over 50 years. Tasmania has the highest home-ownership rate at 70%, and the Northern Territory the lowest at 46%.[7]

Property as an investment

The 24% of dwellings which are rented by private landlords may be considered income-producing or investment properties, and the private landlords as investors, though some owner-occupiers may also view their dwellings as investments. The main difference is that the rent paid by a tenant is income of the landlord-investor, while an owner-occupier does not generally derive any income from the property. Similarly, the investor can claim expenses relating to the property, including property taxes, interest and depreciation, which the owner-occupier cannot. The rent paid by a tenant for private or domestic purposes is not generally an allowable deduction of the tenant, as are any expenses relating to the property.

The owner-occupied dwelling is not subject to the capital gains tax on sale, while the investment property is, though entitled to a CGT discount of 50%.


A modern single family Australian home in East Killara, New South Wales.

Home ownership in Australia is becoming more exclusive. The ratio of the price of the average home to Australians' average income was at an all-time high in the late 1990s.[8] Young people are buying homes at the lowest rates ever, and changes in work patterns are reducing many households' ability to retain their homes.[9]


At the same time, homes that are being constructed are increasing in size [10] and holding fewer people on average than in the past.[11] The proportion of houses with four or more bedrooms has increased from 15% in 1971 to greater than 30% in 2001.[12]

Note: The United States, China and the European Union are the world's biggest economies, representing more than half of Global GDP. Shanghai is considered to be a trend setter for Chinese development. US floor area dropped in 2008 because of the credit crisis. US floor area does not include basements or garages.


In June 2011, The CEO of ANZ Bank, one of the big 4 banks in Australia and New Zealand said housing should not be a vehicle for speculative price growth, but simply as shelter.[13] He also criticized the Federal Government's policy on negative gearing tax breaks which increases the focus on housing as an investment rather than shelter and decrease affordability.[13]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Winter, Ian and Wendy Stone. Social Polarisation and Housing Careers: Exploring the Interrelationship of Labour and Housing Markets in Australia. Australian Institute of Family Studies. March 1998.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Davison, Graeme. "The Past & Future of the Australian Suburb." Australian Planner (Dec. 1994): 63-69.
  3. Kemeny, Jim. "The Ideology of Home Ownership." Urban Planning in Australia: Critical Readings, ed. J. Brian McLoughlin and Margo Huxley. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire Pty Limited, 1986. p256-7.
  4. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-06/fact-file-housing-in-australia/6442650
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Australian Bureau of Statistics HOME OWNERS AND RENTERS
  7. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-06/fact-file-housing-in-australia/6442650
  8. Badcock, Blair and Andrew Beer. Home Truths: Property Ownership and Housing Wealth in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2000, p128.
  9. Badcock, Blair and Andrew Beer. Home Truths: Property Ownership and Housing Wealth in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2000, p150-152.
  10. [1]
  11. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australia Social Trends 1994: Housing – Housing Stock: Housing the Population. 18 Nov. 2002.
  12. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australia Social Trends: Housing – [2]. 22 Apr. 2004.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Negative gearing unhealthy, says ANZ boss". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 June 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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