Australian families have seen the amount of combined income needed to pay off their mortgage slashed recently, from 32.4% in the previous quarter to 28.6% this March quarter.

The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), which calculated the figures in a recent report, said it was the highest level of affordability in nearly six years.

The report also said the buying of activity of first homebuyers was still strong. There were 44,487 first homebuyers at the end of the March quarter nationally, compared to 36,098 in the December quarter of 2008, and 30,373 in the March quarter of 2008.

"With continued increases in affordability, we have seen the level of first homebuyer activity in the market continue to climb," said REIA President David Airey.

Another recent report by the Australian Finance Group, however, said that first homebuyer activity peaked in March and has since slowly declined. ABS figures confirmed this as well, showing a decrease in the number of first homebuyers in April.