The Brisbane suburbs where half the homes are mortgage-free

Less than a third of Australians own their home outright, but in the quiet Logan acreage suburb of Park Ridge, 66 per cent of homeowners are mortgage-free.

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It’s Australia’s top mortgage-free suburb by quite a significant percentage but with a median house price of $471,000, it’s not the same trend being seen in Sydney and Melbourne.

In these two booming cities, the suburbs with the highest rate of fully owned homes are predominantly million-dollar-plus neighbourhoods, an analysis of census data for suburbs with more than 500 homes by Finder shows.

At the top of the list for Sydney is the lower north shore’s Longueville – with a median house price of $4.9 million on Domain Group data, predominantly family homes, many with five bedrooms, on larger blocks of land.

But in Brisbane, the homeowners most diligent at paying off their mortgages live a little more modestly.

Suburbs with a high percentage of outright home ownership include Sheldon, Brookfield, Mount Ommaney, Macgregor and Carindale, all of which have median house prices under $1 million.

???These areas are far from average – the home-ownership rate has been dropping across the country, and research shows more Australians will retire with mortgage debt than ever before.

Brisbane’s “wealthy” suburbs, like Ascot, Hamilton, Teneriffe and New Farm, are all noticeably absent from the list, proving that just because someone can afford a multimillion-dollar house doesn’t mean they don’t need a mortgage, demographer Mark McCrindle says.

Instead, Mr McCrindle says many of the areas where a large percentage of residents own their homes outright are Brisbane’s “suburban heartland”, where residents bought their homes 10 to 20 years ago, put down roots in the local community and paid off their home loan.

“You’ve got traditional values – all of these areas are full of people following that Aussie dream; they’re following in their parents’ footsteps and they’ve been paying their mortgages down diligently largely with two incomes,” Mr McCrindle says.

“What you’ll also find is that in these suburbs the residents have a long tenure, and with that comes a sense of local pride. These are areas where the community involvement is strong, the gardens are well tended ??? people are invested in their community because they’re strongly embedded there.”

Interest-only loans can be beneficial if they assist with an initial purchase to improve cash flow to fund property. Photo: Jim Rice

In Park Ridge, while 66 per cent of residents own their home outright, census data also shows the median age is 58 -meaning more than half the population there is a good 20 years older than the average Queenslander.

“These residents have had the longest time to pay down their homes, which is why we’re seeing such a high rate of outright home ownership,” Mr McCrindle says.

But in suburbs like Macgregor, Stretton and Bridgeman Downs, the population is considerably younger.

So why have so many of them paid off their mortgages? Related: Where half of all homes are mortgage-freeRelated: How to live in Brisbane rent and mortgage-freeRelated: The Brisbane suburbs nearing the end of their life cycle

“If we look at the data we can see these areas are predominantly couples with children; in Bridgeman Downs, many of them primary school age,” Mr McCrindle says.

“But they’re also areas where residents are earning more than $3000 a week – that’s twice the state average.”

Andrea Blake, urban development academic program director at QUT, says the data shows a suburb’s debt level isn’t always down to how wealthy its residents are, comparing Macgregor (median price $748,000) to Paddington (median price $1 million).

“The demographic comparison between Paddington and Macgregor is interesting. Both of these suburbs have a dominant population group of between 20 and 39 years but a vastly different debt situation,” she says.

“Paddington carries a higher secured mortgage debt despite having higher monthly income per household. I would take a guess that the level of personal debt is also higher in Paddington. I think it really comes down to cultural differences, and possibly the peer pressure to maintain a certain lifestyle in some of the more ‘affluent’ areas.”

REIQ spokeswoman Felicity Moore says in the case of Stretton and Macgregor, the median age is below the Australian and Queensland medians, with most residents in their early to mid-30s.

“The key reason supporting a high percentage of mortgage-free owners seems to be the large percentage of residents having university or tertiary education.” Macgregor’s level of advanced education is about 45.1 per cent. “Stretton’s residents also have a higher level of weekly household income compared with Australian and Queensland residents,” Ms Moore says.

Mr McCrindle adds that in suburbs with a higher percentage of renters, it’s understandable there is a lower level of outright home ownership.

“In areas with more development and densification you get more renters and, of course, investors – and with more investors you have people who aren’t purely focused on paying these properties down because they have another focus, on things like negative gearing,” he says.

“A lot of the suburbs on this list don’t have a lot of townhouses or apartments.”

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