The usage and understanding of Australian household mortgages

Andrew C. Worthington (Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)

International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis

ISSN: 1753-8270

Publication date: 2 October 2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to establish the profile of mortgage‐holding households in terms of their demographic, socioeconomic, and financial characteristics and assess the current state of knowledge concerning mortgage products in Australia.

Design/methodology/approach

Logit models predict owner‐occupied, investor mortgages, and mortgage understanding. Factors include financial literacy, gender, age, ethnicity, occupation, education, family structure, household income, savings, and debt. Understanding is knowledge of mortgage rates, fees and charges, and familiarity with mortgage terms.

Findings

Middle‐aged and couples with children have an increased likelihood of an owner‐occupied mortgage, while being from a non‐English speaking background, a small business owner, or a skilled tradesman increases the likelihood of an investor mortgage. Understanding is generally poorer for females, rural/regional households and the young, and better for professionals, the university‐educated, and small business owners and skilled tradesmen.

Research limitations/implications

The cross‐section of households is from a period when mortgage rates were stable and housing prices strong.

Practical implications

No more than 40 per cent of mortgage‐holding households have an understanding of any key mortgage terms, only 35 per cent understand the main disadvantage of fixed over variable rates during falls in interest rates, and just 15 per cent understand the fees and charges on their own mortgage. There is a need for financial literacy programmes to continue and expand.

Originality/value

This is the first Australian study to model the demand and understanding of mortgage products using household level data.

Keywords

Citation

Worthington, A. (2009), "The usage and understanding of Australian household mortgages", International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 347-362. https://doi.org/10.1108/17538270910992791

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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