Saved $50K but can't crack the housing market
WHEN it comes to Aussies struggling to afford their first home, prices in Sydney and Melbourne dominate the debate.
But young people living in Brisbane say the housing market is just as tricky to break into, with one millennial claiming he's been counting his pennies for years and still can't get a look-in.
Joshua Manion, 26, moved to Brisbane from the central Queensland town of Mackay when he was a teenager to "stretch his wings".
He spent years working in hospitality and recently moved to an entrepreneurial role fostering small business growth where he earns a little under $70,000 a year.
Despite his healthy wage and limiting his spending to less than $200 a week, Mr Manion said getting a foothold on Brisbane's property ladder was impossible - even with $50,000 in the bank.
"Everyone's realising Brisbane is the next big city in Australia, which means there's a lot of people from overseas and even Sydney and Melbourne getting into the market; it makes it even harder for us," he said.
The Queensland Government's decision to drop the first homebuyer kick-starter grant by $5000 was another "slap in the face".
"(Millennials) are going through this period where people don't think we're motivated or concentrated on the future - but I'm trying. We need to be supported more and given a fairer go. They don't know how hard it is," Mr Manion said.
Mr Manion started seriously saving when he was 24 and about a year ago began thinking about owning a home.
"I wasn't strict with my finances and, like many young people, I didn't consider property as something to save for," Mr Manion said.
"But then I started to budget, I went through all of my spending and mapped it on a spreadsheet realising my cheapest option was to take public transport, do meal prep, not go out for events and not going on holidays. I haven't been on a holiday, and haven't left the Brisbane area for about five years."
The young Brisbane professional scrutinises every dollar he spends, a habit that has left him with more than $50,000 in savings.
"Every time I walk out the front door I have to spend $15 and I know that's $15 I will never get back. Every time I'm out of the office, going out seeing someone, there's always costs attached," Mr Manion said.
The 26-year-old entrepreneur went from having $20,000 saved four years ago to his current $50,000, which he insists all came down to "being in the right headspace".
He's finetuned his spending to about $200 a week, including rent, food and future bills but insists he's still struggling.
"I would love to say my borrow limit was around $300,000 but because of the cost around Brisbane and the rise in prices each month, my odds are getting slimmer," Mr Manion said.
Despite his struggle, residential property expert Terry Ryder said Brisbane was still one of the best capital city markets for Australian first home buyers.
Mr Ryder has been running real estate prediction company Hotspotting since 2006 to help investors find the best places to buy.
"There is a pick-up in Brisbane but it's not massive yet," Mr Ryder told news.com.au.
"Some of the most affordable housing in an Australian capital city is in Brisbane."
In August, research from CoreLogic revealed Brisbane was leading the nation in all four property performance indicators for the first time in more than a decade.
The figures showed Brisbane was Australia's only capital city to record an increase in home values over the past 12 months. It also showed Brisbane homes were about 1.2 per cent more expensive than they were this time last year.
Despite values picking up in Queensland's capital, Mr Ryder said he "would be surprised if young people couldn't find options in the Brisbane markets that were affordable".
"If they're willing to go up north or south, out of the city, then you can easily find property with a median price of $200,000 and plenty more are up for $300,000," he said.
ARE YOUNG PEOPLE MAKING THE SACRIFICE?
Young people are doing anything and everything to get into the housing market with Mr Manion insisting he's been counting his pennies for years to build up his nest egg.
But Mr Ryder insists a lot of first homebuyers aren't doing enough to enter the market.
"It's always been a question of where you're prepared to go. Are they making the compromises you have to make to get your first home?" Mr Ryder said.
"I bought my first home in Ipswich because it was all I could afford and I had a long commute but I wanted to own a home. Then my second purchase was a lot closer to where I worked and my third was even better. That's the way it works," Mr Ryder said.
The Hotspotting boss said first homebuyers looking for their dream property weren't being practical.
"If you leave school and can't afford your first car because you want a Rolls Royce, you're not being realistic," Mr Ryder said.
"Are you willing to make those compromises to get your foot on the ladder? If you want your first home to be your dream home then you're kidding yourself."
Mr Ryder said even if that market was too tricky for young people to enter, they should look at apartments instead, a recommendation backed by statistics.
"Young people increasingly favour apartments already because of lifestyle and affordability reasons," Mr Ryder said.
"The apartment market tends to be forgotten in the affordability debate. What I'd say to Mr Manion is, even if he wants to look to the centre of the city, look at apartments.
"You can get a bargain first apartment right in the CBD because there's attractive pricing there now because there was an oversupply which has dragged value down.
"Get yourself a cheap first apartment then when you get a bit older and think about starting a family, that's when you upgrade to a home with a block of land and to place you can afford.
"(Mr Manion) has done very well to save $50,000 and that should be more than enough."