Australia has the world’s highest rate of mortgage pain
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Australia has the world’s highest rate of mortgage pain

Australians are forced to allocate a higher percentage of income to mortgage repayments than any other developed nation

By Bronwyn Allen
Thu, Oct 26, 2023 10:53amGrey Clock 3 min

Homeowners in Australia allocate a higher share of their income to mortgage repayments than any other developed nation, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In its Global Financial Stability Report released this month, the IMF says Australian households allocated 15% of income to home loan repayments in December 2022, the highest level among all advanced economies.

Although official interest rates in Australia are slightly lower than other developed countries, we have the second highest level of household debt in the world – primarily due to high house prices – and 75% of our home loans are on variable rates. This makes Australia different to many other advanced countries where longer fixed-term home loan arrangements are the norm.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) says Australians are keeping up with home loan repayments but are cutting spending in other areas to cope with higher interest rates and inflation. In a report released this month, the RBA said some homeowners were taking on extra work, or drawing down on savings buffers, to cope with the higher costs of living. “Many households continue to face a squeeze on their budgets as high inflation and the increase in interest rates over the past 18 months have reduced available income after essential expenses and housing costs. Consistent with this, consumer sentiment remains near historically low levels, particularly for owner-occupier mortgagors,” the RBA said.

Home loan repayments for most borrowers have increased by between 30 percent to 50 percent since the RBA began hiking interest rates in May 2022. “Borrowers with high debt relative to their income – including some new mortgagors and first home buyers – have been particularly affected as their scheduled loan payments relative to income have increased by a greater amount than those of other borrowers,” the RBA said.

However, very few Australians have fallen behind on their loan repayments or sought temporary loan modifications from their lenders. “In the event that more borrowers became unable to service their loans, only a very small number would be in negative equity on their mortgage. As a result, losses to lenders are expected to remain low and manageable.”

The IMF noted that supply constraints have contributed to house prices remaining above pre-pandemic levels in many countries, thereby “complicating central bank efforts to bring inflation back to target”. This is certainly the case in Australia, with the latest inflation data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday showing rents and new housing purchases, along with petrol prices, were the biggest contributors to the 1.2% rise in inflation over the September quarter.

CoreLogic Research Director Tim Lawless draws a direct correlation between the surprisingly strong rebound in home values across most markets in 2023 with the low number of homes for sale. The latest CoreLogic data shows that during the September quarter, home values grew most in Adelaide at 4.3%, Brisbane at 3.9% and Perth at 3.6%. Mr Lawless said: “The three capitals recording the highest capital gain each have advertised supply levels that are around 40% below their previous five-year average. Advertised supply levels across Hobart, where values are still trending lower, have been holding at above-average levels since June last year and were almost 40% above its five-year average.”

Most experts say the rate hiking cycle in Australia is coming to an end as inflation continues to trend down. Demand in the property market appears set to remain strong, with the usual seasonal increase in the number of homes for sale in Spring failing to put any meaningful brake on price growth. A high rate of migration over the next five years is likely to exacerbate demand, while new housing starts remain suppressed due to high construction costs and labour shortages.

 

Tips from RateCity to manage your mortgage

Ask your lender for a lower rate:

If you have a good credit score and always make timely repayments, your lender may not want to lose your business and might offer you an interest rate discount or perhaps waive some fees.

Refinance to reduce your interest:

If you’ve managed to build up some equity in your property, you may be in a position to refinance your home loan with another lender on a lower interest rate.

Make extra repayments to lower servicing costs:

By making extra home loan repayments on top of your obligations, you may be able to shrink your home loan principal and therefore reduce the interest charged on your mortgage.



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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS
Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).

Postmortem

People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.

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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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