Sydney Housing Affordability Nearing 10-Year Low
Despite a rise in listings, affordability is worsening.
Despite a rise in listings, affordability is worsening.
Sydney’s housing affordability worries are set to deepen to its worst level in a decade amid surging prices according to modelling by Moody’s Investors Service.
The ratings agency predicts that Sydney will reach its worst affordability in 10 years if prices rise by a further 4.6% or, alternatively, should mortgage lending rates increase by as little as 42 basis points.
Using data from CoreLogic, this level could occur soon as Sydney’s dwelling prices have already surged 1.7% in the past four weeks.
To arrive at a calculation of affordability, Moody’s analysts show housing affordability as the proportion of the average household income borrowers need to meet repayments on new mortgages based on the median housing sales prices, 80 per cent loan-to-value ratio over a 25-year principal and interest repayment period. Then, a lending rate equal to the average discounted variable interest rate for owner-occupiers published by the RBA is applied.
Currently, in Sydney, new borrowers need 35.4% of household income to pay their mortgages – significantly higher than the 28.3% needed for Melbourne and 20.6% for Brisbane.
Moody’s modelling shows that should mortgage lending rates rise by 25 basis points, Sydney’s average homebuyers would need more than 36% of their household incomes to afford mortgage repayments – Melbourne would need roughly 29%.
Across the country, Moody’s report expected affordability to reach its worst level in a decade should housing prices rise by 15% or if the mortgage rate leapt to its average for the past 10 years of 4.79%.
If housing prices increase by 15%, the share of income to meet mortgage repayments will pass the 28.9% peak of the past 10 years for Australia on average.
The average Australian household with two income earners needed 25.1% of monthly income to meet monthly mortgage repayments in September – up from 24.6^ in February and just below the 10-year average of 25.8%.
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You’ll never guess where they found a little extra room when renovating this west coast house
There was a time, not too long ago, when the most important must-have for would-be renovators was space. It was all about space to be together and space to be apart.
But as house prices increase across the country, the conversation has started to shift from size for the sake of it towards more flexible, well-designed spaces better suited to contemporary living.
For the owners of this 1920s weatherboard workers’ cottage in Fremantle, the emphasis was less on having an abundance of room and more about creating cohesive environments that could still maintain their own distinct moods. Key to achieving this was manipulating the floorplan in such a way that it could draw in light, giving the impression at least of a larger footprint.
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Positioned on a site that fell three metres from street level, the humble four-room residence had been added to over the years. First order of business for local architect Philip Stejskal was to strip the house back to its original state.
“In this case, they were not quality additions,” Stejskal says. “Sometimes it is important to make sure later additions are not lean-tos.”
The decision to demolish was not taken lightly.
“Sometimes they can be as historically significant as the original building and need to be considered — I wouldn’t want people to demolish our addition in 50 years’ time.”
Northern light hits the site diagonally, so the design solution was to open up the side of the house via a spacious courtyard to maximise opportunities to draw natural light in. However, this had a knock-on effect.
“We had to make space in the middle of the site to get light in,” Stejskal says. “That was one of the first moves, but that created another issue because we would be looking onto the back of the neighbouring building at less appealing things, like their aircon unit.”
To draw attention away from the undesirable view, Stejskal designed a modern-day ‘folly’.
“It’s a chimney and lookout and it was created to give us something nice to look at in the living space and in the kitchen,” Stejskal says.
“With a growing family, the idea was to create a space where people could find a bit of solitude. It does have views to the wider locality but you can also see the port and you can connect to the street as well.”
A garden tap has also been installed to allow for a herb garden at the top of the steps.
“That’s the plan anyway,” he says.
Conjuring up space has been at the core of this project, from the basement-style garaging to the use of the central courtyard to create a pavilion-like addition.
The original cottage now consists of two bedrooms, with a central hallway leading onto a spacious reception and living area. Here, the large kitchen and dining spaces wrap around the courtyard, offering easy access to outdoor spaces via large sliding doors.
Moments of solitude and privacy have been secreted throughout the floorplan, with clever placement of built-in window seats and the crow’s nest lookout on the roof, ideal for morning coffee and sunset drinks.
The house has three bedrooms, including a spacious master suite with walk-in robe and ensuite overlooking the back garden. Adjustable blades on the bedroom windows allow for the control of light, as well as privacy. Although the house was designed pre COVID, it offers the sensibility so many sought through that time — sanctuary, comfort and retreat.
“When the clients came to us, they wanted a house that was flexible enough to cater for the unknown and changes in the family into the future,” Stejskal says. “We gave the owners a series of spaces and a certain variety or moods, regardless of the occasion. We wanted it to be a space that would support that.”
Mood has also been manipulated through the choice of materials. Stejskal has used common materials such as timber and brick, but in unexpected ways to create spaces that are at once sumptuous but also in keeping with the origins of the existing building.
Externally, the brickwork has been finished in beaded pointing, a style of bricklaying that has a softening effect on the varied colours of bricks. For the flooring, crazy paving in the courtyard contrasts with the controlled lines of tiles laid in a stack bond pattern. Close attention has also been paid to the use of veneer on select joinery in the house, championing the beauty of Australian timbers with a lustrous finish.
“The joinery is finished in spotted gum veneer that has been rotary cut,” says Stejskal. “It is peeled off the log like you peel an apple to give you this different grain.”
Even the laundry has been carefully considered.
“The laundry is like a zen space with bare stone,” he says. “We wanted these different moods and the landscape of rooms. We wanted to create a rich tapestry in this house.”
The owners now each experience the house differently, highlighting separate aspects of the building as their favourite parts. It’s quite an achievement when the site is not enormous. Maybe it’s not size that matters so much after all.
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