MORE Queensland households are in mortgage stress than they were just a month ago, with rising power prices, higher council rates and childcare costs putting pressure on family finances.
One in five households in the 4350 postcode, which takes in the Toowoomba region, are under mortgage stress — the highest number in the state and the fourth highest in Australia, according to Digital Finance Analytics, which crunched the numbers for The Courier-Mail.
Even more alarming is that nearly 200 of those households are at risk of defaulting on their home loans in the next 12 months.
Ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s September board meeting, the latest figures for August reveal nearly 146,500 homeowners across Queensland are now under stress — up from 144,000 only a month ago.
“You can put that down to power prices, higher council rates and childcare costs going up predominantly,” Digital Finance Analytics principal Martin North said.
“Many households have very little free cash so it doesn’t take much to tip them over.”
Nearly 8500 households across Queensland are at risk of default and that number would jump to more than 10,000 if interest rates were to rise by only half a per cent.
But Mr North said fewer households were at risk of default than the previous month, as expectations of future mortgage rate rises were dialled back.
He said mortgagees in the 4350 postcode would be severely affected if interest rates were to rise.
According to the modelling, the average home price in the Toowoomba region has increased to $490,000 from $382,000 in 2010 and the average monthly household income is now $5300.
About 30 per cent of households have a mortgage and the average monthly mortgage repayment is $1510.
“Unemployment in this area is high and house prices have risen in recent years on top of the rising cost of living,” Mr North said.
The Mackay region was the second most at risk, with property damage from Cyclone Debbie likely to have had an impact.
Across the nation, more than a quarter (860,000) of all households are estimated to be now in mortgage stress — up from 820,000 last month — with more than 20,000 of these in severe stress.
Digital Finance Analytics defines mortgage stress as not having enough income to cover home loan repayments and living expenses.
The RBA is expected to leave interest rates on hold when it meets Tuesday, with all 33 economists and experts interviewed by comparison website finder.com.au predicting the official cash rate will remain on hold at 1.5 per cent.
Eighty per cent are forecasting the next cash rate move to be up, with nearly two thirds not expecting a rise until the second half of 2018.
Finder.com.au insights manager Graham Cooke said rate rises were expected to happen later than first thought.
“There’s been no cash rate movement over the last 12 months, however we have seen the estimated date of the next rise push further into 2018, potentially giving some Aussie borrowers breathing space for longer,” he said.
10 WORST POSTCODES FOR MORTGAGE STRESS IN QLD
1. 4350 (includes Toowoomba region)
2. 4740 (includes Mackay region)
3. 4670 (includes Bundaberg region)
4. 4680 (includes Gladstone, Calliope region)
5. 4870 (includes Cairns region)
6. 4211 (includes Carrara, Nerang, Pacific Pines)
7. 4655 (includes Hervey Bay region)
8. 4701 (includes Rockhampton region)
9. 4551 (includes Caloundra region)
10. 4570 (includes Gympie region)
Source: Digital Finance Analytics