The number of mortgage holders in Warrnambool is growing fuelling concerns older people could increasingly experiencing mortgage stress into their retirement years.
Home owners with a mortgage in Warrnambool increased more than 6 per cent between 2001 and 2021, Census data revealed.
For the same period in Victoria, mortgage holders increased 8.2 per cent while nationally they were up 8.5 per cent.
Almost 37 per cent of private dwellings in Warrnambool in 2021 were owned outright compared with 41.6 per cent in 2001. Victoria-wide there was an almost 11 per cent drop in outright home ownership since 2001.
Significantly, the amount of 55 to 64-year-old Australians with a mortgage more than doubled from 15.5 per cent to 35.9 since 2001. The number of people of retirement age with a mortgage increased to 9 per cent.
Warrnambool mortgage broker Rod Donnelly said he had witnessed a socio-demographic shift in the area. He said people were re-partnering later in life and buying property, and older singles wanting to buy houses who had limited money for deposits.
"This demographic is certainly needing more assistance to get a loan," he said.
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Mr Donnelly said he had also seen a growing number of parents assisting their children into the housing market in what he called "the fifth biggest bank in Australia; the bank of mum and dad".
Housing for the Aged Action Group executive officer Fiona York said soaring house prices were among the main contributing factors to an increase in older people with a mortgage.
Ms York said the rising cost of living, particularly in regional towns like Warrnambool, was compounding mortgage and other housing-related monetary pain.
"The pressure is really on in regional towns," she said. "Private rentals have also increased significantly and people are spending more on food, medical and transport."
The number of Warnambool residents paying 30 per cent or more of their income on their mortgage increased more than 3 per cent since 2011, the Census data revealed.
Ms York said housing-related costs were the main reason people accessed support from the group.
"These are often people that have managed OK financially so far in life and are reluctant to reach out for help," she said.
Ms York said home buyers from cities seeking tree and sea changes after COVID-19 lockdowns, as well as the rise in Airbnb listed properties, added to housing cost stress for regional residents.
Ms York said more public housing was needed to address housing concerns.
"The state government has made commitments in terms of public housing and some have been earmarked for Warrnambool and Geelong which is great," she said.
Ms York stressed the importance of public housing being designed to accommodate older people in terms of structure and access to local services.
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