Making sense of the census

RP Data has produced some interesting stats interpreting the recently release of the 2011 Census data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Analyst Cameron Kusher explained that the first round of the Census 2011 results produced some interesting housing industry-related results.  Kusher says that the data becomes a lot more powerful once it is paired with other available data such as home prices.

Incomes increased more than house prices.

“It is worth noting that family incomes, housing loan repayments and rental payments all increased by a greater amount than median home prices over the period,” Kusher said.

As at August 2011, the median dwelling prices (houses and units combines) across Australia was recorded at $404,000.  Five years earlier, the median home price was $325,000, which indicates total growth over the period of 24.3 per cent.

Comparing that to the median family income shows that the typical home is 5.2 times more expensive, down from 5.3 times five years ago.  In comparison to household income, median home prices are 6.3 more expensive, up from 6.1 times five years ago.

“Either way you look at the results, there are significant differences from other, more regular, measures,” Kusher said.

What’s happening to houses?

The ‘dwelling-type’ data shows that separate houses now account for 75.6 per cent of all homes across the country, down from 76.6 per cent for the previous census.  In comparison, semi-detached homes account for 9.9 per cent of the housing stock and units account for 13.6 per cent.  The proportion of semi-detached homes and units increased since last census while the proportion of separate houses decreased.

“Overall, the results highlight that more affordable housing options such as higher-density housing types are growing in popularity,” Kusher said.


Household tenure data from the latest census also shows that there has been a decline in the number of homes fully owned, with 32.1 per cent of households completely owned by the person living there in 2011, down from 34.0 per cent on last census results.

The proportion of households that were being purchased, (i.e., were mortgaged) rose from 34.1 per cent in the previous census to 34.9 per cent, and the number of households renting increased from 28.1 per cent to 29.6 per cent.

According to Kusher, these results highlight that levels of home ownership are falling, most likely linked to a shortage of supply of houses at affordable price points in many regions of the country.

Number of Bedrooms

Data on the number of bedrooms across Australian households showed that on average, Australian households had 3.1 bedrooms, up from 3.0 bedrooms at the time of the 2006 Census.

Over the five years, the proportion of two-bedroom homes rose from 19.1 per cent to 19.4 per cent, as did the proportion of three bedroom homes (43.6 per cent to 45.4 per cent).  Conversely, the proportion of homes with one bedroom fell from 4.7 per cent to 4.4 per cent and homes with four or more bedrooms fell to 28.1 per cent of housing stock, down from 30.3 per cent last Census.

Overall, Kusher said that the Census 2011 data provides a significant amount of valuable information relating to housing trends.

Noteworthy points from the data:

  • While the number of occupied dwellings has grown by 7.7 per cent over the past five years, it has not matched the 8.3 per cent increase in population.
  • 10.7 per cent of Australia’s houses are unoccupied, compared to 10.4 per cent at the time of the 2006 Census.
  • Growth in housing loan repayments over the past five years has outplaced the growth in individual, family and household incomes.
  • Growth in weekly rents over the past five years has outpaced growth in housing loan repayments.

Change as a percentage5.7%8.3%
Total private occupied dwellings (not including vacant dwellings)7,596,1838,182,565
Change as a percentage7.4%7.7%
Median age of persons3737
Median individual income ($/weekly)466577
Median family income ($/weekly)11711481
Median household income ($/weekly)10251234
Median housing loan repayment ($/monthly)13001800
Per cent of family income dedicated to housing loan27.8%30.4%
Per cent of household income dedicated to housing loan31.7%36.5%
Median rent ($/weekly)191285
Per cent of family income dedicated to rent16.3%19.2%
Per cent of household income dedicated to rent18.6%23.1%
Average number of persons per bedroom1.11.1
Average household size2.62.6
Median dwelling price (based on RP Data’s nationwide median dwelling prices)$325,000$404,000
Ratio of median price to family income5.35.2
Ratio of median price to household income6.16.3

Source: RPData



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