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Published on July 10th, 2012

New ABS data shows ‘substantial’ home ownership shift

New census data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and analysed by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria has revealed that the balance between those who are paying off a mortgage and individuals who own their property outright has shifted substantially during the past 50 years.

The most recent 2011 data revealed that 31 per cent of the residential properties in Melbourne were owned outright compared with 42 per cent in 1961. The numbers have shown their most dramatic drop within the last 20 years – and in the past ten years, the number of people paying off mortgages has exceeded the number of people who own their homes.

According to the REIV, this trend could be perceived as a "concerning" one, as renting, rather than owning, a property can reduce household wealth.

Insights into shifting home ownership behaviour over the past 50 years also illustrate Melbourne's rapid population growth.

The 1961 census showed that there were 518,476 occupied dwellings in the Victorian capital, compared with 1.49 million last year.

Of these, 67 per cent were owned outright or being purchased – down from 73 per cent 50 years ago. This downward push has been particularly evident within the past decade, as this proportion stood at 70 per cent in 2001.

But while the census data shows a major change in our approach to home ownership, there has been little movement when it comes to the type of properties Melburnians choose to live in.

The proportion of detached homes has remained unchanged over the past five years, standing at 72 per cent in 2006 and again in 2011.

According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, any increase in high-rise living – particularly in inner-city areas – has been offset with a similar increase in the number of detached homes as the city continues to expand outwards.

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