How do you measure up?
WE'RE a nation of property lovers, but who among us are the most likely to own houses and what do their homes look like?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has crunched the numbers on home ownership in Australia, finding our mortgages are more manageable, we're buying and paying off our homes later in life and we're choosing larger homes to live in.
How are we coping with our mortgages?
IT'S a home-owner's favourite sport; bemoaning the amount of our hard earned cash is taken up paying off the mortgage each month.
It might be surprising then to hear that the percentage of the income mortgage holders are using to pay off their home has actually declined during the last 10 years.
The ABS figures show that in 2005-06, owners with a mortgage paid 19% of their total household income on housing costs. By 2015-16 this had fallen to 16%.
"This is likely driven by lower interest rates coupled with growth in household incomes over the last decade,” Director of Household Characteristics and Social Reporting Dean Adams said.
The devil in the difference is of course in the details though. Australians today are paying more money to own their homes each week, but wages have more than caught up.
In 2005-06, owners with a mortgage paid $434 per week in housing costs, similar to the $452 paid in 2015-16 in real terms. But over the same period, average total household incomes for mortgagees rose from $2,272 to $2,759 per week.
"Mortgage and property values have also increased in the last decade. Ten years ago, the real median mortgage value was $171,000 which rose to $230,000 in 2015-16. Meanwhile, the real median dwelling value increased from $449,000 to $520,000,” Mr Adams explained.
Who owns homes?
The ABS report also looked at the changes in home ownership. It found levels remained stable from 2013-14 to 2015-16, with 67% of households owning their home - 30% owned their home without a mortgage, while 37% of households had a mortgage secured against their dwelling.
Going back another decade, the results also reveal that households are entering into a mortgage at older ages.
The proportion of younger households - aged under 35 years - represented 69% of first home buyers in 1995-96 but dropped to 63% by 2015-16.
"Having a mortgage is now the most common form of ownership for households whose reference person was aged between 35 and 54 years,” Mr Adams said.
"Among this group, ownership with a mortgage increased by 15% over the last two decades, from 41% to 56%. Meanwhile, the rate of outright ownership in 2015-16 (12%) was one-third the 1995-96 rate (36%).”
The rate of older households - aged 55 years and over - who were still paying off a mortgage has tripled between 1995-96 and 2015-16 (from 7% to 21%).
Older households are spending more of their income on housing costs than two decades ago, increasing from 8% to 14% for those aged between 55 and 64, and from 5% to 9% for those aged 65 and over.
What do our houses look like?
Australian houses are growing, despite their occupants remaining the same. The research found around three quarters (78%) of all households had one or more bedrooms in addition to what the household required while only 4% required at least one additional bedroom.
The research found the average number of people per household remained stable at 2.6 in 2015-16 and he mean number of bedrooms per dwelling rose from 3.1 to 3.2.