Hey, the West feels the pinch too!

Western Brisbane residents aren’t immune from the pressures of the 9th interest rate rise in three years despite living in some of its most affluent suburbs. There’s a perception out there that the housing affordability issue is confined to the city’s poorer pockets, but there are ‘struggle streets’ everywhere and the affluent west is no different. For every upwardly mobile family moving into the area, there is another grappling with an increasingly dwindling margin between income and mortgage repayments and that can’t be ignored. Indeed, I’ve met with a number of local families recently who are looking to downsize even though their family has actually expanded – they want to stay in the area but can’t afford the repayments on a large home. The fact is nine interest rate rises since 2004 has taken its toll and although wages have also gone up across the board, many families have unwittingly over-capitalised. It only takes a redundancy or forced change of circumstances to suddenly throw a financially functioning family into chaos. Data from the Queensland courts has shown that home repossession rates have skyrocketed in the last three years, with almost 800 homes having been relinquished this year already. While very few of these have been in the western suburbs, five of which – Pullenvale, Fig Tree Pocket, Chapel Hill, Moggill and Brookfield – are among Brisbane’s richest suburbs according to the last census, it would be foolish to think everyone out here is on easy street. My business – this industry’s business - is helping people find and purchase their dream home (and by extension sell their old home), and to see people being forced out of the market due to rising interest rates is distressing for everybody. There is no clear-cut solution to the current economic situation, but at least both sides of politics are talking about ways to ameliorate the pain for families. Let’s hope there’s some post-election action beyond the rhetoric! Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay Principal, Century 21 Westside