Daniel Pockett / Getty
The ability for a young person to buy a house, though not impossible, is incredibly hard. We’ve known that for a while.According to recent Grattan Institute modelling, right now it would take 12 years for a couple on an average income to afford a 20 per cent deposit on a “typical” home. A third of young men and a fifth of young women are likely to stay at home well into their 20s - and up until their 30s - and there’s really not much to look forward to.
Do you know who you might vote for?I usually go Greens.
Follow Julie Fenwick on Twitter and Instagram.Read more from VICE Australia.
This goes hand in hand with the fact that the cost of living is going up while wages are stagnating. For the last 10 years, Australians haven’t had a pay rise. The Morrison government touched on this in the federal budget, promising an increase of wages from 2.75% in 2022 to 3.25% in 2023, however there was little to no evidence to support that strategy of attack. With the federal election around the corner, many are now whittling down their options on who to vote for: Liberal, Labour, Greens or Independants. While I talk to a lot of young people about their opinions on various topics – housing, sexual education, cryptocurrency – by far this has been the hardest to recruit. Sarah, our first interviewee, put it nicely: “I think the reason you’re finding it hard to find people is because I think a lot of young people have already given up.”Despite that, we dug deep to find young home buyers, either with their first home or looking to purchase soon, for their opinions on housing, the election and where their vote will be heading. For what it’s worth, a lot of the people who did come out of the woodwork told us they’d be voting for the Greens. So… that’s interesting.
SARAH, 28-years-old, Community Support Worker
Seriously, saving for a house? At the beginning of 2021.And when are you looking at buying?
VICE: When did you start saving for a house?
The goal is to buy by the end of the year. I don't think it's going to happen though.That's a pretty short window to save for a house.Yeah, I've always wanted a house. But I think I got my ass into gear properly at the beginning of last year. And I mean, it's a loose goal by the end of the year, very loose, probably unrealistic. So what's the market kind of been like? Or what's your experience been like so far?Yeah, it's so depressing. I feel like I wish I was serious about saving for a house maybe five years ago in order to get a house two years ago. I feel like the housing market wasn't as bad then. Or as unapproachable. But yeah, I feel like now is probably the worst time to buy a house, in my opinion.Why do you think that is? What do you think's changed over the last few years?When I look for what I want – like the basic needs – into looking for a house, the options have become very slim. I have less choice in the criteria I want to go for. So that's the difference between now, to two or three years ago. What kind of role do you think the current government has played in helping young people afford housing?I think wages have definitely not gone up enough. The gap is widening way too fast, where the house prices are going higher. And having someone like Scott Morrison, with statements like he has said in the past few weeks about renting and owning a home. It's disheartening as a young person to hear that from your own Prime Minister.
Where do you think statements like that come from? I definitely think he has a different way of living. He's not living what we're living or ever has, and never will. So I think his views are really unrealistic.Do you think there are any parties at the moment that can help you pursue buying a house?At the moment, I have to say, no. First of all, I don't have the full knowledge of what all the parties have offered in the sense of house, house marketing or living. So that's probably my answer: no. Do you mind if I ask who you're going to be voting for in the upcoming election?Definitely small parties, like Animal Justice parties. Smaller, minute parties that have a massive vocal view on things. At the moment, I want to refine who I vote for before actually voting. But I've always been a small party or Independent person from the time I started voting.Does buying a house ever come into the equation when thinking about voting?100%, even since I've been voting since I was 18 years-old. I feel like major parties and minor parties have never really made a statement about housing affordability. I don’t think I can remember a party in all the years I’ve voted having a massive statement or massive presence around housing.
VICE: So you own a house. When did you start saving?Yeah, I own a house. I started saving when I first got a job in my late-teens.
Neil, 29-years-old, Advertising
Was your goal always to save for a house?Not necessarily from that age, it was more-so being financially responsible to some degree. And then reinvest, whether that’s in the share market or housing. It wasn’t so much about saving for ten years to buy a house but I saved up funds just to create good habits.So how long would it have been since you decided to buy a house until you actually bought a house?Maybe a year. What was the market like? What was your experience like?I was making the most of the market given the prices through the pandemic dropped quite significantly, the interest rates dropped quite a lot as well. So it was a good time for a first home owner to get into the market. It was a window for a lot of people. So I just got in before the prices started to rise.Did you have any difficulties finding anything in your price range?I mean the saving part, not so much, because it was a process and habit, so it’s not so much that I decided in one year to buy a house. I already had the money and I decided to spend that on a house. It seemed like a good opportunity to start looking, so it wasn’t necessarily difficult. There was a lot of demand at the time, people realised that interest rates were low, so there was a lot of competition. So every viewing I went to there were a lot of people going in. A house would sell in a matter of days.
What do you think about the future of young people trying to buy a house?I mean it’s definitely difficult. Looking back at the increase of property prices over our generation versus previous generations relative to the rise of income, inflation is spiralling a little bit out of control.There’s been a housing affordability issue for a long time. I guess what we see with the government is that they talk the talk, but their actions don’t necessarily reflect helping people get into homes. On the surface it might look like they are, with the first home buyers grants, but these policies that the government is funding aren’t really helping the fundamental issue of reducing property prices or increasing supply. It’s an ongoing spiral. And they do these positive things before the election to get a positive buzz but to be honest these politicians own property as well. Increasing the supply doesn’t benefit them personally. And do you think there’s a party whose policies align with young people trying to find a house or get into the property market?Not that I’ve seen. Personally, you hear alot about the current government and whatever their shortcomings are, I think people are quite aware of the limitations of the last couple of years and how they’ve dealt with certain situations like the pandemic. At least personally I don’t hear much from the other parties either. Honestly, I don’t know what parties are the best for housing affordability. I just expect our current government isn’t going to help the current situation but I don’t know who is.
Who do you think you’ll vote for?I don’t want to answer that. Honestly I haven’t really made a decision. I need to look more into it so answering that question feels a bit premature.
VICE: When did you start saving for a house?I’m gonna say like three years ago, maybe four.Why?Because my mum gave me the ultimatum. She was like: “do not rent anything just stay at home as long as it takes to save enough for a deposit for a house”. So without her direction I definitely would not have thought to start saving.How much do you think you’ve saved in the last 3 years?Maybe $80,000.Have you started looking?I started looking in October.What’s the market been like?It was shocking, maybe up until about January. It started to settle down a little bit but while I was looking between October and January I’d say most apartments that I looked at went for probably $100,000 - $200,000 over the reserve.In this upcoming election, do you think any parties have a policy that can help in the pursuit of young people buying a house?I won’t lie to you I haven’t put very much thought into it yet. I normally do my research the days or hours leading up to the election which is not good but…
Sonny, 24-years old, Media Coordinator
Do you know who you might vote for?I usually go Greens.
VICE: First Question, when did you start saving for a house?I guess as soon as I joined the workforce, I started saving for a house. I think I started working at McDonald's. I was in grade nine. My parents have been, well… they're boomers. So they were all about investment properties. They always just instilled a lot of saving. How long have you been looking for a house? Are you still saving?Probably for a couple of months. But again, probably looking to actually pull the trigger in a year and a half.What's the market been like since you've been looking in the last month or so?It's expensive. We're not doing the typical strategy of buying in the outer suburbs, selling, and then moving in and then making profit on that. We essentially don't want to leave the north. So we're looking just in the north of Melbourne.Do you think what you've saved up will be enough?Yeah. But there's also chunks of change that have been given by deceased relatives and things like that. And we've been both doing salary sacrifice, since we've been working full time. Which goes a long way. It’s an initiative by the government. It’s almost like free money. It's very good. It really helps saving because you don't actually ever see the money in your account. It’s stored in a separate basket by your employer.
Nathan, 28-years-old, Tech Sales
Do you think that those initiatives set up by the current party work well for the younger generation looking to buy a house?Yeah, absolutely. I think they are. They're just not very well explained. I've got a degree in business and I've got a financial planning diploma but that's how I really learned how it all worked and how to use it. And it's not easy. So my parents had to explain it to me first. I can't imagine it being very helpful for someone that doesn't have much of a financial background.Do you think that might be one of the reasons that young people find buying a house inaccessible? Because initiatives are hard to understand?I mean, I don't think it's the main reason. I think the main reason is the housing market inflating at such a rate that's essentially not sustainable.So in saying that, that the housing market has inflated, do you think that there's a party currently coming up in the election that may help with that?I don't think so. I think it's such a touchy thing, because you've got multiple forces working against each other here where you've got people looking to enter the housing market that don't have a lot of capital behind them. And I think that once people do buy a house, even if you just get your first house, you don't want that value to drop, because it's where most of your investments are now sitting.
It's not very publicised, because if you take a side it alienates one side against you. Because maybe you've saved up a million dollars for a house, and you're paying it off, and now someone's saying they want the value of your investment to drop. That's hard to deal with.So who are you thinking of voting for in the upcoming election?I'm voting Greens.
VICE: When did you start saving for the house that you just recently bought?I've always been a big saver, but I've just been saving this big nest egg for no reason in particular. A house was a thing I always wanted to buy but in my head, I was like, “Oh, I'll do that in my mid-30s”. So to answer your question, I mean, I think I've been saving subconsciously since I started working at 14. So when did you actually buy it?A month or six weeks ago.What was the experience or process behind that?I’m doing it through the first Home Buyers grant through the Victorian Government. And that kind of propelled me to get into the housing market. This was something I was really new to. I don't have the bank of mum and dad but they were really great because they're helping me with some of the processes of talking to a solicitor or an accountant.It was quite daunting, especially at the time that I decided to buy housing prices were skyrocketing. So I really felt quite clueless.
Violet, 23-years-old, Media and Communications
Obviously you have the house now, but how do you think policy or our current party affected your ability to buy?It’s a bit embarrassing. I am someone who's obviously interested in politics, but for some reason, because this world of housing and property just felt so foreign to me, I didn't even realise the different factors that would influence it, like the government in power.I was like, “oh, yeah, the housing crisis is being affected by a lot of different things at the moment”, but I didn't really just pinpoint it to our current government. So who are you voting for this election? I'll be voting for Greens. It’s simple for me.Has housing come into that decision at all, or not really?I'm all for voting for the greater good. And I'm happy to be someone who's being taxed because I own property because that's the way it should be. I guess housing has come into it, because I understand they've got some great policies in place around it. But that's an interesting way of looking at it because I haven't thought about how it's going to impact me personally more just how it affects the housing environment in general.
Follow Julie Fenwick on Twitter and Instagram.Read more from VICE Australia.