• Greg Morgan

Average First Home Buyer Age Rises

The average age of first-time property buyers continues to rise in Australia. It's increasingly rare for couples in their 20s to snap up their first home, with the average Aussie well into their 30s by the time they get a mortgage. This puts Australia near the bottom of the list compared with other nations, with Aussie first-home owners slightly older than those in the UK and USA but dramatically older than those in many European countries. While housing affordability is the obvious factor delaying entry to the property market, other influential factors include people studying for longer, travelling more, and waiting until they can afford their "dream" home.

A new study by Money.co.uk analysed the age of first-time buyers across 25 countries. Australians, on average, are 36 years old when they buy their first home. Belgium and Iceland head the list with an average age of 27 years, followed by Finland at 29 years, China and India at 30 years, and Austria and France at 31 years. The average age of first-home buyers is 33 years in the USA, and 34 years in the UK and Germany. Average first-home buyers in New Zealand and South Africa are slightly younger than they are in Australia at 35 years.

Australia was 18th in a list of 25 nations, with the most mature first-home owners coming from Switzerland at 48 years, Czech Republic at 42 years, and Spain and Japan at 41 years. While this study did not account for home ownership rates and many other factors, it does highlight a growing trend of the ageing first-home buyer. According to the study, the average budget for a first-time property in Australia is $339,000 based on current income levels, which is $92,000 lower than the average price of a two-bedroom unit.

According to Melbourne-based property buyers’ advocate Cate Bakos, first-home buyers have been getting noticeable older for the past two decades: “Many are studying for longer, travelling more, living their best life as renters for longer, putting off children for longer and, more importantly, jumping into ‘dream home’ ownership, as opposed to ‘stepping stone’ home ownership... [Many] are disheartened that they can’t live in a character home in the inner ring, so rather than buy smaller or further out, they just remain renting or living with parents for longer.”

Figures highlighted in the Money.co.uk study mirror those from other sources, with the mean age of first-home ownership rising in Australia over the last few decades. According to figures from Ahuri, the average age of first-home ownership was just 33 in 1995–96. There has also been a large reduction in the proportion of younger householders aged 15–24 buying a new dwelling, along with a rise in the ownership of more affordable semi-detached houses and apartments.

Despite these long-term trends, current conditions in Australia are relatively good for first-home buyers. HomeBuilder and other government incentives were offered to first-time buyers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and interest rates have reached historic lows. This has led to record levels of first-home buyer activity over 2020, which will help to keep the average age down for the immediate future.

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