The cen­tre of mort­gage pain

Fremantle Gazette - - RESIDENTIA­L - Kim Mac­don­ald

NOWHERE else in the coun­try are home­own­ers strug­gling to pay their mort­gages more than in By­ford.

It tops the list — and is among six WA sub­urbs in the top 10 — with the high­est num­ber of peo­ple who are be­hind on their mort­gage re­pay­ments.

The S&P Global re­port shows coro­n­avirus is not the only driver be­hind the high mort­gage ar­rears, with the min­ing down­turn still largely to blame for prob­lems in pock­ets of WA.

In By­ford, 6.28 per cent of mort­gages are in ar­rears. Also on the top ten list are Madding­ton (5.9 per cent), Blythe­wood (5.3 per cent), Cooloongup (4.8 per cent), But­ler (4.8 per cent) and Cloverdale (4.7 per cent).

“(WA) has been home to the na­tion’s high­est ar­rears for a num­ber of years, re­flect­ing bor­row­ers’ in­creased debt-ser­vice­abil­ity pressures since the end of the min­ing boom,” the re­port said.

“COVID-19’s eco­nomic ef­fect is un­likely to be as neg­a­tive as other parts of the coun­try, given its good progress on con­tain­ing the virus and the strong de­mand for iron ore.”

Chelsea Armstrong (pic­tured), who owns an in­vest­ment prop­erty in By­ford and is not in ar­rears, said many homes in the area were built dur­ing the min­ing boom when peo­ple were op­ti­mistic that prop­erty val­ues and wages would keep in­creas­ing.

“I feel like a lot of peo­ple over-reached to be able to buy in th­ese re­ally nice, new ar­eas ... (but) in 2010, it felt like ev­ery­thing would keep go­ing up,” she said.

But prop­erty prices in outer sub­urbs have dipped and wages have stag­nated or fallen.

Her own home is worth less than the $340,000 she paid for it a decade ago.

Now liv­ing at her new home in Da­lyellup near Bun­bury, she said she had been able to stay on top of her mort­gage by rent­ing out the By­ford house.

She urged oth­ers to think care­fully about us­ing gen­er­ous govern­ment build­ing grants in some outer ar­eas.

“When you get the grants you feel like you’ve got the money, but you don’t re­ally re­alise how long the mort­gages go on for,” she said.

Build­ing bro­ker Trent Fleskens of Strate­gic Prop­erty Group said the build­ing grants would would fur­ther drive down prop­erty prices.

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