As safe as houses - or a house of cards?

The real costs and benefits of home ownership


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Content type
Family Matters article

March 1996


In such uncertain times are there circumstances where home ownership brings financial loss rather than gain? If some families lose by becoming home owners, could measures to boost home ownership actually be increasing economic and social inequality? These are questions that have attracted much sociological and economic debate since the late 1960s. In this article data collected by the Australian Institute of Family Studies in its Australian Living Standards Study (ALSS) is used to examine first, the extent of financial advantages available to home owners and, second, which areas had the greatest gains and losses. In so doing the authors assess whether popular assumptions about the economic rewards of home ownership are accurate in the era ushered in by the deregulation of housing finance. The four ALSS areas analysed for this article are in metropolitan Melbourne: inner Melbourne, Box Hill, Berwick and Werribee. Issues addressed include capital gains and housing benefits and locational differences in housing benefits and losses.

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