There has been growing concern about the impact of high borrowing levels and low wages growth on Australian households, the residential property market and the economy
Part of that concern is that banks have been raising mortgage rates this year, despite the official cash rate remaining steady, and this is putting added pressure on indebted households.
However, the latest evidence is that mortgage stress levels have fallen over the past year.
Roy Morgan reports that in the three month to April, 16.8 per cent of mortgage borrowers were “at risk or facing some degree of stress making repayments.”
The latest finding compares with a stress level of 18.4 per cent in the same period last year.
Roy Morgan’s stress measure is based on the ability of home owners to meet repayments on the original sum borrowed.
The peak over the past decade was in May 2008, when Roy Morgan’s stress measure reached 32.7 per cent.
Stress is much higher among low income groups (households with income below A$60,000 a year), where it is currently 85.3 per cent.
For households with income above $100,000, the stress level is 1.4 per cent.
Concerns about high household debt levels may be overstated. Bankers will tell you that the things that cause borrowers to get into arrears are unemployment and rising interest rates.
Both are fairly stable at the moment.