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Affordability Lies

Affordability Lies


My business, which publishes the website, has a pretty simple philosophy in the pursuit of success: if we make our customers happy and/or satisfied, we’ll be successful.

The idea is to be helpful to people trying to achieve an objective – for example, finding a good location to buy a property to achieve a good rental return and capital growth over time.

The philosophy is: if we’re helpful to people, they’ll become our customers and the business will be successful.

In my experience, most businesses have approaches which are similar – if they provide good products and service, their customers will be happy and they will be successful.

BUT … News media is different.

The business model pursued by most forms of mainstream media is that they can make money by making people feel bad.

Media organisations set out to profit by alarming people.

The media picture of the world is one of wars, climate disasters, mass murder and tragedy.

When it comes to real estate, the approach is similar. They figure that if they startle us, alarm us, cause us fear and consternation, we’ll click on stuff. And then they’ll be able to sell advertising based around all those fear-inspired clicks.

The motivation is not to be help us or to inform us.

And so, when it comes to housing affordability, media has no desire to be helpful.

The objective is to tell everyone, yet again, that home ownership is impossible.

And they do it, aided and abetted by attention-seeking research companies, by being essentially dishonest.

Media outlets could, if they wanted, be truly helpful to young Australians contemplating home ownership for the first time. They could provide information on where to find affordable homes, how to get finance, the government grants and concessions that can help – and the alternatives to houses on land which are cheaper options.

But, by and large, they don’t.

What they do instead is present a package of dishonest or irrelevant information which creates the inevitable conclusion: you’re doomed to a lifetime of renting, or it will take you 15 years to save a deposit, so why bother.

Media is full of this stuff. It doesn’t matter how many times media outlets run the “home ownership is out of reach” headline, journalists figure that we have an insatiable appetite for being given this same sad message over and over again – almost daily.

Being bashed relentlessly with the same depressing story is bad enough but the worst of it is that media outlets are being dishonest with us.

What they’re presenting is an irrelevant collection of statistics when arrives at a pre-conceived conclusion – that home ownership is out of reach – Shock! Horror! Outrage!

The formula they use is this … the median price in our biggest and most expensive cities, always houses and never the cheaper alternatives like units and townhouses, and always a 20% deposit.

If you use that set of criteria, you will probably always come up with a negative conclusion.

But it’s all irrelevant information.

First-home buyers don’t purchase at the median price in big cities. They buy in the lower price ranges.

Many opt for attached dwellings, rather than detached houses, because it suits their lifestyle preferences and of course they’re often half the price of houses in the same area, or less.

And you don’t need a 20% deposit to get into the market.

The length of time it takes to save a 20% deposit to buy a house in Sydney at the median price – which currently is well over $1 million – is utterly irrelevant to first-home buyers everywhere, including those who live in Sydney.

I know a young couple in their twenties who were able to save the deposit to buy a good apartment on the Sunshine Coast in less than a year. They were both working and they lived off one wage and saved the other. An apartment suits their desire for a low-maintenance lifestyle and they can walk to the beach.

If they’d listened to the news media, they wouldn’t have even tried.

Achieving home ownership for the first time has never been easy and it’s not easy now, but it IS possible.

Each year Hotspotting collaborates with the nation’s biggest comparison website Canstar to product a national report which highlights affordable locations across the nation and provides core information about how you can buy an affordable property and what it costs.

That’s what you do when you start with the motivation of being helpful, rather than seeking to generate clickbait by startling people with erroneous and irrelevant information.


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