Housing, avocados and affordability

SMASHED: Nicky Thomas is defiantly enjoying avocado on toast while saving for a deposit to buy a home. However, she is increasingly doubtful she can save enough to buy in Newcastle.
SMASHED: Nicky Thomas is defiantly enjoying avocado on toast while saving for a deposit to buy a home. However, she is increasingly doubtful she can save enough to buy in Newcastle.

NICKY Thomson, of Tighes Hill, is saving money for a deposit to buy a house.

However, recent upward movement in house prices in the Newcastle area has left her despairing.

The most recent Sales and Rent Report, released by the NSW Government last week, shows a startling 14.6 per cent jump in house prices across the Newcastle local government area over the past 12 months. 

“I have been renting since I was 16 years old,” Ms Thomson said. “I would love to own my own home.”

The 43-year-old single parent works full-time hours as a social worker.

Ms Thomson has kept a close eye on house prices in Newcastle in recent years.

Watching the cost of buying rise beyond her financial grasp has left her doubtful she will ever be able to save a large enough deposit. 

“I have lost faith ... but I still have a savings plan,” she said. 

Ms Thomson said she believed the price rises were driven by investor activity and people relocating from Sydney to Newcastle due to its relative affordability and lifestyle opportunities. 

“They say the housing bubble is going to burst, but I don’t see that happening in Newcastle,” she said.

“It seems people are moving here all the time.” 

She said the State Government was not doing enough to help first home owners get into the market. 

“I would like to see them create more opportunity for low income earners to be able to save and buy a house,” she said. “There are different incentives in other parts of Australia, but not NSW.” 

Ms Thomson, who currently rents, said secure housing was important for well-being and feeling secure about the future. She is concerned she may never own her own home. 

“I am seeing myself in a Golden Girls scenario share house,” she said.

“With a group of us talking about incontinence pads and lamenting over all those avocados we ate.” 

The report also showed, on average, house prices had also risen in Lake Macquarie by 8.3 per cent. The 2289 postcode, which straddles both Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, has seen growth of 23.7 per cent. 

The Housing Australia report, released in August by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, pointed to two factors driving house pricing across Australia.  

Demand: fewer houses for sale than there are buyers. And economic drivers: growing real incomes and wealth, low interest rates, and fiscal policies –  in particular taxation policies.

The report found Australian house prices had tripled since the 1970s while wages had only doubled. It said policy was needed to “prioritise shelter to the most disadvantaged”.