Pockets in Western Sydney, northern Perth, regional Queensland and Victoria have the worst rates of mortgage stress in the country, new data has revealed.
More than 10,500 homes in the NSW postcode of 2560, such as Campbelltown, Bradbury and Lumeah suffer from mortgage stress, the highest rate in Australia, revealed Digital Financial Analytics data commissioned by consumer group CHOICE.
A household is said to be in mortgage stress when more than 30 per cent of pre-tax income is spent on paying your mortgage bills.
This was followed by homes under postcode 2170, including Moorebank, Liverpool and Casula, which counts 10,002 homes in mortgage stress.
Perth’s northern suburbs took the third place, with 9,889 homes in postcode 6065 such as Jandabupm Wanneroo, and Melaleuca suffering from this ‘crisis’.
Other postcodes on the top 10 list include 4350, encompassing Queensland’s Toowoomba and the surrounding suburbs.
Victoria is home to five of the 10 suburbs suffering the highest rates of mortgage stress in the company. Narre Warren (3805), Berwick and Harkaway (3805), Hoppers Crossing (3029), Ballarat (3350), and Sydenham and Delahey (3037) all count between 7,200 and 8,919 homes in mortgage stress – each.
Rounding out the top 10 list is Western Australia’s Ridgewood and Merriwa (6030) with nearly 6,900 homes in mortgage stress.
Meanwhile, the state of Tasmania has the highest rate of mortgage stress, with 55 per cent of homes in the Apple Isle suffering from mortgage stress.
Australians in these households are spending more than they are earning, said CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.
“That means that they have to make difficult choices, like whether to put food on the table or keep up with repayments. If they can't maintain the juggling act, they risk losing their homes,” Kirkland said.
The Morrison Government attempted to repeal responsible lending laws in what Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said was necessary to stimulate the economy and reduce red tape.
But the plans appeared to be killed when crossbench senator Pauline Hanson joined independent senator Jacqui Lambie and Labor in opposing the bill.
“Now is not the time to give more power to the banks," said Kirkland.
Here’s the full list of 10 suburbs with the highest rate of mortgage stress:
The rise of mortgage stress
The COVID-19 pandemic also served to worsen mortgage stress, with ABS data revealing employees experiencing at least one mortgage stressor rose from 31 per cent to 38 per cent in the 2020 June quarter, the first time in nine months.
What to do if you’re in mortgage stress
If you’re struggling to keep up with your mortgage repayments, the first thing you should do is speak to your lender.
While the blanket pause on mortgage repayments has ended, lenders have indicated they are still willing to negotiate with their customers on a case-by-case basis if they are experiencing financial difficulty.
If you’re currently paying more than the minimum, think about bringing your repayment amounts down, or change the frequency of your payments.
Other options include restructuring your loan, like moving to a fixed rate or to a split variable/fixed arrangement, or refinancing with a new lender, since interest rates are at an all-time low, though this may come with some fees and charges.
And if you are experiencing financial hardship, get in touch with a financial counsellor for free through the National Debt Helpline at 1800 007 007.
It’s better to seek help as early as possible, said Financial Counselling Australia director of policy and campaigns Lauren Levin.
“Lots of different people seek help for things like losing their job or having their number of hours of paid work decreased, but they’ve still got the same regular commitments. Relationship issues and relationship breakdown can also mean people need help.”
“Financial stress is really difficult and that’s why you have to get help early. Anecdotally we hear that women seek help earlier than men, sort of like with going to the doctor.”