This research investigated the growing numbers of middle aged and older Australians who are carrying mortgage debt into retirement and paying off higher levels of debt relative to house values and income. Between 1987 and 2015, mortgage debt among older mortgagors increased by 600 per cent (from $27,000 to over $185,000).
According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Income and Housing, home-ownership rates among Australians aged 55-64 years dropped from 86% to 81% between 2001 and 2016. Mortgage burdens have spiked in the 55-64 age group. In 2001 roughly 80% were mortgage-free. By 2016 this had plummeted to only 56%. Indebtedness is even growing among owners aged 65 and over.
Outright home ownership has long been regarded as a supporting pillar of Australian retirement incomes policies. Increasingly, concerns that rising mortgage debt and falling home ownership rates in later life are undermining the role of home ownership in supporting retirees’ financial wellbeing.