Accessing Super Unlikely to Help Home Buyers in Sydney or Melbourne

24th April 2017

The high cost of housing in Sydney and Melbourne means that even if first home buyers could access their Superannuation to purchase, it is unlikely to sufficiently boost their buying power in order to enter into the market.

By Cameron Kusher – Corelogic

Last week the ABC crunched some numbers for purchasing using Superannuation.  They developed figures which showed that based on the average earnings for a 25 to 34 year old, including their 9.5% super and a $7,125 per annum co-contribution and assuming returns of 3.2% per annum  the average person in this age group could save $45,545 in their Super.  For arguments sake lets say they could have a deposit of $50,000 which means if they put down a 10% deposit they can purchase a property worth up to $500,000.  Keep in mind that they would still have to pay lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI) if they were borrowing more than 80% of the value of the property

Ultimately, a purchase price of $500,000 is not going to allow the potential buyer to access very many detached homes in Sydney and Melbourne.  The options, particularly if they want to live closer to the city, will largely be limited to units.  Outside of Sydney and Melbourne there are far greater options for potential first home buyers with a purchase price of $500,000.  Keep in mind when we talk about the national housing affordability challenges it is largely a Sydney and Melbourne problem.

Number of suburbs in each region with a
median value of $500,000 or less, March ’17


In Sydney, only 4.1% of all the suburbs in the city have a current median house value of $500,000 or less and 19.7% of suburbs have a median unit value of $500,000 or less.  Gosford, Wyong and Blacktown are the dominant council areas for the locations of these house.  For units, potential buyers can make it close to the city but the closest they are going to get to the city centre is the Auburn and Parramatta council areas.

With a budget up to $500,000 potential purchasers in Melbourne will have access to 18.7% of suburbs for houses and 50.1% of suburbs for units.  For a house, the closest you will find to the city centre in Melbourne is within the Hume council area close to the airport.  For a unit there are far more options and this budget would get you as close as central Melbourne with units in Melbourne, Kensington and Carlton having a median value of less than $500,000.

Residents of Canberra (7.1%) and Darwin (7.5%) also have very little access to houses throughout the city with a budget of $500,000.  At the same time, a majority of suburbs have a median unit value of $500,000 or less in Canberra (83.2%) and Darwin (90.6%).

Across the remaining capital cities, residents of Brisbane (39.6%), Adelaide (47.9%), Perth (37.8%) and Hobart (76.6%) have much greater access to houses worth $500,000 or less.  In each of these cities a budget of $500,000 would allow buyers to purchase a unit in at least three quarters of all the suburbs across the city.

The data highlights that access to superannuation to purchase a home would largely help buyers outside of Sydney and Melbourne.  With Sydney and Melbourne being the housing markets most stretched for affordability, allowing first time buyers is going to make little difference in affording these buyers with access to the housing market.  Furthermore accessing superannuation would potentially further add to housing demand which is already outstripping supply.  This could potentially lead to even greater increases in values not only in Sydney and Melbourne but potentially elsewhere as well.