Larry Schlesinger | 23 January 2013

Australian housing market not as unaffordable as Demographia claims: Andrew Wilson

Rising house buying activity in the last 12 months and greater enthusiasm from buyers suggests Demographia’s has overstated the severity of housing affordability in Australia, says Australian Property Monitors chief economist Andrew Wilson.

The hotly-debated Demographia survey ranked Australia as the third least affordable housing market in Australia behind Hong Kong and Canada.

Sydney ranked as the third most expensive major housing market in the world - with a median multiple of 8.3 topped by Vancouver in Canada at a multiple of 9.5, and, most expensive, Hong Kong where the multiple sits at 13.5.

Wilson says that any measures of unaffordability are certainly not affecting the market place in terms of buyer activity and prices growth.

“So we need to look very carefully at the concept of what is unaffordable,” he says.

“Does unaffordable mean inability to buy, because in Sydney buyers are up and about?”

Wilson warns that it is “always dangerous” to aggregate market not even Australia wide but capital city wide and characterise them as unaffordable.

He says buyers are “still very enthusiastic about purchasing properties in Australia”

“We are definitely seeing a better period of housing market activity over the last 12 months than we did for the previous 12 months,” he says.

“That means that affordability, if it means the capacity to buy houses, has improved,” he says.

The Demographia survey finds that Australian housing affordability improved marginally from 6.7 to 6.5, with anything under a score of three deemed affordable.

Demographia measures affordability by dividing the median house price with the median household gross annual income before tax.

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