Wimmera offers quickest path to entering Victoria’s property market

File photo.
File photo.

WIMMERA and Mallee people are able to save for house deposits up to four times quicker than anyone else in the state.

The Bankwest First Time Buyer Report found first-time buyers in Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh, West Wimmera, Buloke and Northern Grampians municipalities could save for a median house deposit in less than two years.

The five areas were in the top six Victorian municipalities where it takes the shortest amount of time to save for a deposit.

On average it takes people buying in Yarriambiack 1.3 years to save for a 20 per cent house deposit of $23,701, the quickest time in the state.

The statewide average is 5.4 years, while the national average is 4.6 years.

Yarriambiack mayor Graeme Massey said the data was not surprising given the volume of affordable housing in the municipality.

“We have houses that are $100,000, which would be the equivalent to at least a $200,000 house in other places,” he said.

“However some of the houses on the market are not in a great condition and require a lot of maintenance.

“They might be cheap to buy, but people might have to spend the same amount of money getting them to a state they are comfortable to live in.

“What we do need more of is housing for our ageing population.

“We have a lot of older people living in homes that are too big for them, but to move into a smaller more modern retirement place – there just aren't any of those around.

“There’s a waiting list, and that’s not just in Warracknabeal but in other small towns too.

“We’d love someone to come to the shire and build some units, because there is demand.”

Cr Massey said there was a concern the shire’s affordability could attract people who were only interested in cheap housing, and not worried about giving back to the community.

“It is a worry, but it’s not way up on our list,” he said.

“But we’re certainly aware of it.

“We are aware we've got a lot of people around now who don't volunteer, or join clubs or groups when they move to town.

“The pool of volunteers we have is diminishing, as people moving into towns are not contributing as much as the people moving out.”

Hindmarsh’s average saving time was 1.4 years for a 20 per cent deposit of $25,194, while West Wimmera people also averaged 1.4 years to save for a $27,580 deposit.

The report found people in these Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh and West Wimmera had an estimated combined couple’s wage of $88,713, $90,455 and $98,399 respectively.

Hindmarsh mayor Ron Ismay said housing affordability in Wimmera municipalities was undoubtedly a drawcard for some people.

“Houses in our smaller shires aren’t worth near as much as in Horsham for example,” he said.

“You can buy a really good house in Rainbow for $120,000, when you might be paying $300,000 to $400,000 in Horsham.

“Our towns need new people for their survival, and affordable housing is one thing to promote to help get them here.”

The first-time buyer report tracks how long it would take first-time buyers to save a house deposit in 421 local government areas across Australia in the five years to June 2017.

The figures are based on incomes and house prices in each municipality, plus assistance from the First Home Owners Grant.

Victorians eligible for the grant can receive $20,000 towards their home.

Yarriambiack is equal 10th in Australia for the shortest time needed to save for a deposit.

All municipalities experienced an increase in the time needed to save from the same time last year.

Bankwest personal and small business banking general manager Donna Dalby said despite the increases, first-time buyers were not put off from getting into the housing market.

She said there were 26,369 first-time purchases in the year to June 2017, roughly the same as the previous year.

“Victorian house prices rose by 14 per cent in the 12 months to August 2017, but also in 2017 we saw the introduction of stamp duty discounts for Victorian first-time buyers on properties up to $750,000,” she said.

“While Victorian wages only grew by 2 per cent in the period, this stamp duty discount will have encouraged first-time buyers into the market.

“There were about 3162 first-time buyers in Victoria in August 2017 alone, the highest number since December 2009.”