Stress fears as coastal mortgage costs spiral

By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN

SURF Coast and Borough of Queenscliffe have recorded some of Victoria’s biggest rises in monthly mortgage repayments, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The two coastal areas figured in the top five, with Surf Coast mortgages rising 48 per cent and Queenscliffe’s up 47 per cent since 2006.
Surf Coast median monthly mortgage repayments of $1218 in 2006 rose to $1800 in 2011, up $582.
Monthly repayments in Queenscliffe rose $471 from $1029 to $1500.
Both rises outstripped the “large” Australian average increase of 38.5 per cent, the bureau said.
The Independent reported in recent weeks that home repossessions were up 50 per cent in Geelong’s northern suburbs despite historically lower interest rates. And a shortage of cheap rental properties in Geelong had raised a “red flag” for human service organisations as homelessness increased.
The bureau’s director of rural and regional statistics, Lisa Conolly, said mortgage costs increased more than wages between 2006 and 2011.
“The median weekly household income increased 20.2 per cent compared to an increase of 38.5 per cent in mortgage repayments.
“The median weekly household rent rose to $285 from $191 in 2006, an increase of 49 per cent.
Ms Conolly said housing costs were often the largest regular expense for Australians, sucking up 18 per cent of average weekly incomes in 2011/2012.
“It’s important for local communities to understand the changing costs of housing in their local area because it impacts on where people choose to live and the local service and infrastructure planning for a region.”
SalvoConnect network director Lisa Dalla-Zuanna said mortgage holders should heed financial-stress warning signs.
“The best advice is to get some financial counselling when the mortgage gets high rather than think you can manage,” Ms Dalla-Zuanna said.
Highly leveraged mortgages and increased credit card use were often signs of financial stress, she said.
“If you find you’re using it without making repayments you’re going wrong. If you’re only making minimum repayments you’re getting nowhere.
“That’s when you need look at cutting back and getting advice. Budgeting is a skill and not everyone has it.”

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