Local housing prices spiral

A local analysis of housing prices over recent months indicates it’s getting harder than ever to crack into the housing market in Mount Alexander.
Newstead and District Affordable Housing member John Nieman says the group’s analysis of the local property market highlights the trend.
The former local councillor is also raising concerns about what the future may hold for some prime local real estate – the old Newstead community tennis court site – which is currently owned by the council and which NDAH now hopes to see used for more affordable housing to suit changing demographic needs.
“We ran an analysis of the Midland Express property section and it shows that the entry price for Mount Alexander for the past five or six weeks is in excess of $600,000,” says Mr Nieman, who has a degree in sociology and a background in industrial engineering.
“We arrayed the asking prices smallest to largest to establish a median asking price for houses in Mount Alexander Shire only.
“The following are the results with medians expressed in thousands of dollars: Dec 15, 2020 $639k; Jan 26, 2021 $628k; Mar 16 $612k; Mar 23 $607k; March 30 $664k; April 6 $700k.
“From this raw data the overall current median ‘ask’ is somewhere about $630,000.
“How does this compare to wages, which represent buying power? If we divide the ask by the current average annual earnings, taken as $80,000, we get a figure of 7.9, which we can call an affordability index. This establishes the relationship between earnings and housing expenditure.
“We built our first house around 1971 and it cost $18,000, my better-than-average annual earnings were then $6000.
“If we apply the same process to the then parameters we get an index figure of 3.0. This indicates that housing affordability is about 2.6 times harder to achieve now than it was then.”
Mr Nieman says NDAH is particularly concerned to see home ownership slipping out of reach of many and changing demographic needs not reflected in new housing being built.
He points to Newstead’s disused double tennis court site – a central 2000 square metre land parcel currently held by Mount Alexander Shire Council – as ideal for an affordable “cluster housing” project.
“There’s a building boom going on in Newstead but most of what’s being built are three-bedroom houses with ensuites,” he said.
“But there’s a fair proportion of people here who are singles, elderly and living by themselves. It’s terribly important to keep them in the district and ageing in place.
“At the moment council is doing its four-year plan and part of that is asking ‘what have we got that’s a useless asset? Do we sell it off or do something with it?’
“We want to be part of that conversation,” he says.

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