Older Australians overwhelmingly prefer home ownership to renting

Older Australians overwhelmingly prefer home ownership to renting
Older Australians overwhelmingly prefer home ownership to renting

Older Australians desperately want to avoid the private rental market with 80% instead pursuing hopes of suitable ownership options, according to recent research.

But the housing supply is not meeting the needs of older Australians, the report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) found. 

Older NSW home owners aspire to remain in home ownership, preferring to live in three-bedroom separate dwellings in Sydney's middle to outer suburbs. 

There is a smaller preference to reside in small regional towns or large regional cities.

Those aged 75 and over were more likely to have a preference for the inner suburbs.

Few aspired to live in the CBD. And only 2% wanted a one bedroom apartment.

While the number of bedrooms, building quality and dwelling type are important, safety and security and having somewhere that feels like home are more critical for older Australians.

The number of older Australians increased by almost three million between 2006 and 2016, while the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates the number of older Australians will more than double from 5.8 million in 2012 to 14.1 million in 2062.

The survey results from AHURI follows recent accompanying research that shows mortgage debt obligations for older Australians is a growing concern, rising from $27,000 in the 1980s to $186,000 more recently.

Since 2006, the proportion of outright owners has fallen in the 55–64 year group, with falls still significant, but less dramatic, among those aged 65 or over.

Around 35% of 55–64-year-olds have a mortgage compared to 8% of those over 75.

Policy innovation is severely lacking in delivering the housing and housing assistance required to meet the aspirations of later-life Australians, AHURI has concluded.

"Current patterns of housing supply are not meeting the diverse needs of older Australians with too many apartments and large separate dwellings and not enough mid- sized product," the Older Australians and the housing aspirations gap report, lead by James Rowley, noted.

The Australian Housing Aspirations survey collected responses from 2400 responses from older Australians.

The report urges the better matching of new housing supply to aspirations to meet the demand for two and three-bedroom houses (including attached) located in high level amenity locations.

Social connections within the community, walkability, quality public transport, access to services and amenities and proximity to family and friends are important.

While large back gardens are less important to older Australians, some outdoor space was considered important.

"Dwellings need to be designed with older Australians in mind, which includes being easily adaptable when required," the report said. 

"Strategic planning needs to deliver outcomes that reflect the demand for smaller houses within established suburbs and move away from a mind-set that apartments are the only solution to delivering smaller dwellings.

"Regional locations also need a greater diversity of dwelling product.

"Small regional towns were a popular aspiration of older Australians, but there needs to be a range of products available in these locations to meet demand."

The report also noted delivering low cost, low deposit ownership products, through shared ownership or through a land rent type scheme, could deliver the safety, security and control characteristics of home ownership sought by older Australians.

Any Federal Government initiatives that seek to reduce financial penalty via taxation in later years to enable housing transitions, are generally supported by the research.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

Ahuri Generational Living

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