Home ownership becomes a distant dream


Domain has published the below table showing the shocking increase in deposits required to purchase a median-priced house across the three largest Australian cities.

Deposit gap

As you can see, someone who purchased a house in Sydney in December 2018 at the then-median price of little under $1,067,000 would have needed $213,400 in savings for a 20% deposit.

A comparable house purchased in December last year at Sydney’s most recent median price of $1,595,310 would require a buyer to pay an additional $105,665 for a deposit, about 50% higher than five years ago.


A buyer who purchased a Melbourne median-priced house in 2018 at $858,000 would have needed $171,600 for a 20% deposit. If they bought a similar house five years later at the most recent median price of $1,047,000, they would require over $38,000 more, or a 22% increase.

Buyers in Brisbane faced an even greater increase, paying 55% more than the median property price in 2018 ($570,053 vs. $888,285 in December 2023).

To add further insult to injury, the cost of renting has also risen sharply over the past five years, making it harder to save for a deposit:

Rental growth

Higher interest rates have also helped lift home loan repayments to record levels:

Housing debt servicing costs

As a result, there is now also a record gap between median home values and what buyers can actually afford to pay to avoid mortgage stress:

Housing affordability

This is why PropTrack analysis showed that only 13% of Australian homes are now affordable to the median buyer, the worst result in 30 years of data:

PropTrack affordability

Underlying all of this is the fact that Australian house price growth has far outpaced income growth since the turn of the century:

Housing affordability since 2008

Source: Tarric Brooker


For buyers without the “bank of mum and dada” to rely on, home ownership in Australia has become a distant memory.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.