However, housing affordability has worsened because of soaring prices in Sydney and Melbourne.
And things could get even tighter for those with mortgages after the recent interest rate hikes by the big banks, credit agency Moody’s warns.
New data from Moody’s shows Australian households with two income earners spend an average of 29.3 per cent of their monthly income on mortgage repayments, up from 28.2 per cent last year.
Paying off a home loan is toughest in Sydney, with affordability at its worst levels in 14 years.
Mortgage holders in Australia’s biggest city are now using 39.2 per cent of their income to make repayments on their homes, the highest since 2001, and up from 36.1 per cent a year ago.
Affordability also worsened in Melbourne, where house prices have also risen significantly in the past year.
But over in Perth, the downturn in the mining sector has helped cool prices and make paying off a home easier.
Moody’s analyst Natsumi Matsuda said historically low mortgage interest rates have failed to offset the impact of surging house prices in Sydney and Melbourne.
“The higher house prices in these two cities mean larger mortgage loans with more onerous repayment obligations,” she said.
“The less affordable a mortgage becomes relative to household income, the higher the risk of delinquency and default.”
The average standard variable mortgage interest rate is currently at 5.45 per cent, well below the 10-year average of 7.07 per cent, Moody’s said.
But those low repayment rates have failed to offset the 17.6 per cent rise in Sydney housing prices and the 15.4 per cent in Melbourne during the 12 months to October.
Moody’s does not expect housing affordability to improve soon because of the combination of strong home price growth and recent interest rate hikes by the banks, most of which take effect in November.
Even though the Reserve Bank has cut its cash rate to a record low 2.0 per cent, lenders are hiking home loan rates to offset costs linked to new regulations requiring them to hold more capital against home lending.
“Prices are still rising, which is negative for housing affordability,” Ms Matsuda said.
“Household incomes have been fairly flat and have therefore not compensated for higher house prices.”
PERCENTAGE OF MONTHLY INCOME SPENT ON MORTGAGE REPAYMENTS
- Sydney: 39.2pct, up from 36.1pct
- Melbourne: 32.1pct, up from 29.1pct
- Brisbane: 23.3pct, down from 24.1pct
- Adelaide: 21.7pct, up from 21.2pct
- Perth: 21pct, down from 23.9pct