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Homeowners tighten belts to pay mortgage

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A large proportion of Australian household have had to make drastic cuts in their spending to meet their mortgage repayments, according to a new consumer survey. The latest Fujitsu/JPMorgan Australian Mortgage Industry report found that nearly a quarter (23%) of those surveyed said they have had to reduce their expenses to pay their loan as the full impact of the two interest rate rises last year took its toll. The survey also found that the number of borrowers who had fallen more than 30 days behind in their mortgage repayments had nearly doubled in the past 12 months. More than two-thirds (68%) of the borrowers surveyed said they would consider refinancing their home loan to save money. This is a significant increase from only 47% last year and 33% in 2005. The survey revealed that more than a third of the respondents have already acted in accordance with this trend by refinancing their home loan in the past 12 months. Higher rates and falling affordability have also weighed heavily on first homebuyers with almost 30% saying they cannot afford to enter the market - a huge increase from a year ago when only 17% stated they could not afford to buy their first home. A staggering 51% of would-be buyers are also keen to explore shared equity options to get their foot in the property market.

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