Misinformation about real estate is rife in Australia, to the extent that most of the nation’s citizens are utterly and constantly confused about what is really going on in our housing markets.
But the single worst piece of misinformation of all, among the many that afflict Australian consumers daily, is a report published each year under the title of Demographia.
Every year this report claims that Australia has the most unaffordable homes in the world, or close to it.
And that Australia’s largest cities are among the most unaffordable in the world – with Sydney currently claimed to be the second most unaffordable city on the planet.
Now, many people might be happy to believe these startling claims, because real estate is undoubtedly expensive in many parts of the nation, especially the largest capital cities.
But here’s the key point: this report doesn’t produce any evidence to back up its spectacular claims about where Australia sits in the world of real estate.
Despite this reality, the media is quite happy to use this shabby report to lie to the people of Australia about the status of its homes, relative to the rest of the world.
Let me explain why I say this.
At last count, planet Earth contained a total of 195 nations: 193 countries are member states of the United Nations and 2 countries are non-member observer states.
So, how many of the world’s 195 countries are included in the Demographia annual survey to determine which are the least affordable places for housing.
How many do you think?
The answer is 8.
Yes, just 8.
Australia is compared to just 7 other countries in this dreadfully inadequate report.
It doesn’t include anywhere in Europe, for example.
So extraordinarily expensive cities like Paris are not included.
In Asia, it includes Hong Kong, but hardly anywhere else. Tokyo, for example, isn’t included.
But, on that basis, newspapers and other media outlets across Australia have claimed that Sydney is the second most unaffordable city – IN THE WORLD.
Melbourne is the eighth least affordable city – IN THE WORLD.
… according to this report, according to our shallow news media.
The problem is, these are lies.
These headlines can’t be substantiated by this report.
You would think that, somewhere in Australia, a journalist with an inquiring mind might pause for a moment to ask: hang on, how can you make these sweeping claims about Australian real estate when you have only 8 of the world’s 195 nations in your survey?
And you might expect that at least one journalist among the many thousands in this country might want to ask questions about who publishes this report and what their motives are.
The answer, not that any Australian journalist has asked, is that it’s published by a self-serving think tank called the Urban Reform Institute, which campaigns against government regulation of the activities of property developers, claiming it makes homes too expensive.
It claims that in 2022 NOWHERE in the world was affordable, according to their absurd methodology. Or, more accurately, none of the small number of markets examined by their survey was affordable – according to this report.
And they use this trumped up, very contrived and self-serving report to try to achieve their ends of ending regulation of property development.
Without any success, I might add, no one in government is listening.
Oh, and by the way, according to the report, nowhere in Australia is affordable.
Not just in 2022 but for as long as they have been publishing the annual report, they have declared all of Australia unaffordable.
This means that, according to this “institute”, no one can afford to buy a house anywhere in Australia.
Not in Port Augusta in South Australia where the median house price is $190,000, nor in Broken Hill in NSW, where the typical house costs $175,000 – or in Mount Morgan or Moura or Depot Hill in Rockhampton – all places in Queensland where you can buy houses for under $200,000.
According to this report, it’s all unaffordable. No one can afford to buy there.
You would think that there might be a journalist somewhere in Australia that might be curious enough or ethical enough to ask some fairly basic questions about this.
But no, not one.
Because journalists, mostly, don’t give a toss about accuracy or fairness or balance or ethics.
They care only for the cheap headline. For the clickbait.
And they’re happy to lie to us to achieve that rather disappointing objective.
We deserve better.