MEDIA RELEASE: Most Australians want Government to act on housing affordability

March 29, 2023

Per Capita’s new Centre for Equitable Housing (CEH) has released a major survey of community attitudes towards housing affordability in Australia, revealing that most Australians think the housing market is in need of significant reform.

The Australian Housing Monitor is a nationally representative survey of Australians’ views about the housing market. It is one of the largest surveys of its kind, and reflects deep, widespread and growing concern that the “great Australian dream” of owning one’s own home is out of reach for all but the wealthiest families.

The survey found that, while 85% of non-homeowners still hope to buy a home at some point, fewer than one in four (24%) expect to be able to do so.

Almost two-thirds of non-homeowners say that the only way they will ever be able to buy a home is if they receive a large inheritance.

The survey also found that housing stress is a rapidly growing problem across the country. 1 in 4 households report experiencing housing stress in the survey, up from 1 in 5 in 2017. This suggests that 1.25 million Australian adults have begun experiencing housing stress in the last five years.

Almost two-thirds of people (62%) agree that the continued increase in house prices is bad for the economy and is exacerbating wealth inequality.

70% of people are very worried that house prices in capital cities have doubled since 2011.

Director of the CEH, Matt Lloyd-Cape said:

The Australian Housing Monitor shows that many people believe that the “Great Australian Dream” of home ownership is under threat.

However, we also found a significant and broad appetite for reform in the housing policy space. Survey respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of increasing the construction of public housing, limiting sudden rent increases, and tax reform to better balance the interests of owner-occupiers and housing investors.”

The most popular policy response to the housing crisis is for the government to build more social housing, with support from almost three-quarters (72.2%) of Australians.

Two-thirds (66.9%) of survey respondents support some form of cap on rental increases, while a similar number (66.7%) want the government to step in to limit bank profits from residential mortgages.

While only 46.2% of respondents supported removing tax concessions such as negative gearing, this figure rose a full 10 points to 56.2% with the suggestion that the revenue from removing tax incentives for investors be spent on providing more public and community housing.

Per Capita’s Executive Director, Emma Dawson, said:

The findings of the inaugural Australian Housing Monitor survey reveal deep and widespread concern about the state of the housing system, and challenge some long held beliefs among policy makers about the community’s appetite for reform on both the supply and demand sides of the market.”

“Almost two-thirds of respondents believe that the continued increase in house prices is bad for the economy, and 70% are very worried about the doubling of house prices in capital cities since 2011.

It may surprise economists and policy makers to learn that only around 40% of homeowners believe they have personally benefitted from rising house prices, and just 29% believe their economic fortunes rely on house prices always going up.”

The survey demonstrates a widespread appetite for government intervention to address the housing crisis.

77.8% of women and 69.5% of men believe that the government has a responsibility to ensure that all children growing up in Australia have a home that is safe and healthy, while a majority (56.6%) of people believe that housing policy in Australia favours older wealthier people who already own homes.

Housing affordability ranked as the third most important electoral issue for survey respondents. 86.6% of renters see housing affordability as a very important electoral issue, but even 63.7% of those who own their home outright agree.

A significant majority of voters for all parties are concerned about housing affordability. Greens voters are most concerned, with 82.6% saying it was of high importance, followed closely by Labor voters at 80.6%.

The survey indicates that housing affordability could play a significant role in determining where swing voters place their preferences in coming elections, with 78% of Labor voters and 80.5% of Liberal voters who say they are likely to change their vote at the next election ranking housing affordability between 8 and 10 on a scale of importance.

A report outlining the findings of the survey can be found here.

The key findings from the Monitor, broken down by key demographics, can be accessed here.

The Australian Housing Monitor is the first project from Per Capita’s new Centre for Equitable Housing, which is generously funded by the V&F Housing Enterprise Foundation.

The survey was conducted by Essential Media between 13 and 22 December 2022. It gauged the opinions of 4733 Australians and respondents have been weighted to ensure the sample population is representative of the Australian public based on age, gender and location.

Media enquiries: Emma Dawson on 0400 372 738.