Houses only 'severely unaffordable'

HOUSING affordability improved in Australia last year, according to an annual international ranking, but local real estate still remains some of the least affordable in the world.

Australia's national unaffordability ratio sank from 6.1 times in 2010 to the still ''severely unaffordable'' ratio of 5.6 times, helped by sinking home prices, according to analysis by a US research group.

''Australia exhibited the worst housing affordability of any national market outside Hong Kong,'' the eighth annual Demographia International Housing Affordability survey of 325 markets concluded. The unaffordability ratio is derived from dividing the median house price by the median household income.

Demographia considers a median multiple rating of three times or under to be ''affordable''.

Housing markets with a median multiple of 3.1 to 4 times are dubbed ''moderately unaffordable''. The ratio of 4.1 to 5 times is ''seriously unaffordable'' while ''severely unaffordable'' markets have ratios of 5.1 times or above.

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