26 September 2023

Census reveals surprising home ownership change

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Poppy Johnston* says the number of Aussies who own their home outright has dropped significantly.

Compared to the mid-1990s, a far larger proportion of homeowners are still paying off a mortgage compared to those who own a home outright.

According to 2021 census data, the split of households who rent and own a home hasn’t changed much in three decades.

But just 31 per cent of households owned their own home outright in the 2021 census compared to 41.6 per cent in 1996.

The number of households with a mortgage has increased from 26.5 per cent in 1996 to 35 per cent in 2021.

Around 30.6 per cent of households were renting in 2021, according to the census data.

In 2016, 31 per cent of participants owned their home outright and 34.5 per cent had a mortgage.

In 2021, Australians borrowed more money to spend on housing than ever before.

Australians borrowed more than $305 billion to spend on either buying or renovating property between January and October 2021, according to ABS data.

The census also revealed an uptick in caravan usage.

Australian statistician Dr David Gruen told the ABC that may have been because the Census data was collected during COVID when people were forced into unconventional living arrangements in an effort to abide by lockdowns and social distancing orders.

The census also revealed there were more than 1 million dwellings sitting empty in Australia on census night.

Gruen said COVID may also explain this figure.

He said without the lockdown, more people would have been staying in their holiday homes at the time of the census, so those places were marked as vacant.

“It’s certainly the case that a considerable number of Australians have second homes, and those homes are sometimes unoccupied,” Gruen said.

The 2021 census data also revealed that 70 per cent of dwellings in Australia were detached houses, 13 per cent were townhouses and 16 per cent were apartments.

*Poppy Johnston is a journalist at Yahoo Finance Australia covering personal finance, property, careers, investing and economics. She can be contacted at [email protected]

This article first appeared at au.finance.yahoo.com.

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