Red-hot house prices in Melbourne’s inner-north have forced one of the area’s federal MPs to find a cheaper place to live.
Federal MP for Wills Peter Khalil says he and his family were “effectively priced out” of Brunswick, after they were given notice to vacate their rental property, despite having a pre-tax annual household income of more than $200,000.
The Labor backbencher says the “stressful experience” of the forced move has highlighted the plight of local renters and would-be home owners who are not lucky enough to enjoy six-figure incomes.
Mr Khalil is not alone in being overwhelmed by the cost of living in Brunswick where median house prices have soared from $860,000 in 2016 to $1.06 million this year, according to the latest data from Domain.
The news is not good for renters either with the median weekly price of a 3-bedroom house in the area now at $650.
The MP told Fairfax Media he was notified in August that his landlord wanted the Khalil family out of Stewart Street rental so the house could be put on the market.
“We tried to contact the owners to see if they were interested in selling, rather than us moving with two little kids,” Mr Khalil said.
“That’s when they came back and said they were looking for something like $1.9 million and my jaw just hit the floor; there was no way we could go near that.”
Mr Khalil said he thought his MP’s salary would allow he and his wife, who works part-time, to buy a new house without having to move too far.
He was wrong.
“We could not get near any of the properties for sale in Brunswick,” Mr Khalil said.
“I was shocked that with this fantastic salary that an MP gets, we couldn’t get into that market.
“We could not get near any of the properties for sale in Brunswick.
“It’s a decent salary and I’ve got no complaints, but the bank is just not going to lend you enough, on that salary, to afford that price.
“Effectively we were priced out.”
Eventually, with a little help from his parents, Mr Khalil was able to buy a property in the more affordable Pascoe Vale end of his electorate, but says the episode gave him an idea of the impact of Melbourne’s affordability crisis.
“It highlights for me in a very literal way, how hard it is for young families to get into the market these days,” he said.
Tenants Union of Victoria spokesperson Devon LaSalle said many residents of the inner-suburbs earning low or modest incomes had a choice: move further away from the city or face serious housing stress.
“Unfortunately what happens to a lot of renters is that the prices go up and they get priced out of the market,” Ms LaSalle said.
“A lot of these people are paying in excess of 30 per cent of their incomes on rent – that’s the threshold for being under housing stress.
“We’re gonna see more and more people in those inner-city areas who are under housing stress and that’s a problem.”