Buying can be cheaper than renting

Australians looking to get a foot on the property ladder will be buoyed by news that in some parts of the country it is cheaper to own a home than it is to rent one.

With interest rates still relatively low, home loans are far more affordable than they once were, while at the same time rents have risen dramatically.

According to new figures from RP Data, there are 238 suburbs in Australia where it is more cost effective to sign up to a mortgage and take ownership of a property – if you can rustle up a ten per cent deposit that is.

In some instances, homeowners can find themselves $742 better off than their renting counterparts.

Sydney has 22 suburbs that are more expensive for rental properties than they are to buy and Brisbane has 16.

RP Data's Tim Lawless said that numerous factors have combined to make property ownership much more affordable.

"With lower mortgage rates, tight rental markets resulting in some rental increases and lower home values, many buyers may see now as a good time to either re-enter the market or buy their first home," Mr Lawless claimed.

And Aussies should be taking advantage of the low-interest environment by searching for the best home loan deal – even if they already have a mortgage.

He added that one of the key factors is that capital city house prices have taken a major hit, losing 5.9 per cent of their value since prices peaked in October 2010.

In some areas, however, the property market is still struggling to draw in first-time buyers. What's more there has been a significant rise in the number of existing homeowners falling into arrears – particularly in Victoria where an estimated 14,000 families are now behind with their mortgage repayments. Last year, 11,000 families were in a similar situation.

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