The ACT has recorded the biggest improvement to housing affordability in the country as first home buyers increased by more than 50 per cent compared to last year, despite a recent decline.
The Real Estate Institute of Australia Housing Affordability Report for the March quarter found a slight improvement to housing affordability nationally, with the ACT recording the largest drop of a 1.1 per cent decrease to the proportion of income needed to meet home loan repayments.
21.2 per cent of the ACT's median weekly family income of $2809 is needed to cover loan repayments, the report found. It is the second lowest proportion behind the Northern Territory at 20.2 per cent.
Rental affordability dipped in the ACT but improved across the country in the three months to March. 19 per cent of income is needed to meet the ACT's median rent, an increase of 0.2 percentage points in the March quarter but stable to this time last year.
REIA president Adrian Kelly said Canberra had the biggest decline in the number of first home buyers this quarter, of 22 per cent, a trend echoed across the country.
However, he said compared to the March quarter 2019 first home buyers in the ACT had increased by 57 per cent.
Nationally, he said there were 27,082 first home buyers, a decrease of 10.7 per cent during the quarter, but increase of 23 per cent compared to the same time last year.
"With the introduction of the First Home Buyer Deposit scheme on January 1 we expect that share of first home buyers will continue to grow."
There was a 22.2 per cent decrease in loans to first home buyers in the ACT this quarter but an almost 60 per cent increase compared to the same time last year.
The average loan for first home buyers increased 4.8 per cent to $446,330 over this quarter.
The number of home loans in the ACT decreased 20.9 per cent over the quarter but that was a jump of 20 per cent compared to last year.
The ACT's average loan size is 5.7 per cent lower than the national average.
The next REIA report will reflect the impact the current COVID-19 pandemic has had on affordability.