Nearly one in 10 Australian mortgage holders have little or no real equity in their home, and that number is set to rise if property values continue to fall as expected.
About 386,000, or 8.9 per cent, of borrowers are paying off loans on homes that are equal in value to or less than the amount they owe their lenders, new research from Roy Morgan has revealed.
That number shot up by more than 40,000 in the past year as the nation’s major housing markets cooled.
The situation represents “a considerable risk, particularly if home values continue to fall or households are hit by unemployment”, Roy Morgan industry communications director Norman Morris said.
The state at highest risk is Western Australia, where 16.5 per cent (90,000) of mortgage customers have no real equity in their homes.
“If house prices decline further in WA and unemployment increases, then more mortgage holders will be facing a tough situation,” Mr Morris said.
WA is followed by South Australia with 12.1 per cent (43,000), Queensland with 9.6 per cent (88,000) and Tasmania with 7 per cent (6000).
NSW has the lowest proportion of borrowers at risk with 6.1 per cent (82,000), followed by Victoria with 6.8 per cent (71,000).
“The strong performance in Victoria and NSW is due mainly to the rapid rise in Sydney and Melbourne prices, which has generally outpaced the amount owing on mortgages,” the report said.
In the past year, home values have fallen 2.7 per cent nationwide, according to the latest figures from property data analysts CoreLogic.
The downturn has been led by Sydney, where prices fell 6.1 per cent, Melbourne (-3.4 per cent), Darwin (-3.7 per cent) and Perth (-2.4 per cent).
Last week, investment firm Morgan Stanley forecast prices to fall by as much as 15 per cent from their September 2017 peak.
“We now see a 10-15 per cent peak to trough decline in real house prices, from 5-10 per cent previously, which would mark the largest decline since the early 1980s,” the company said.