Home ownership is on the decline around Australia, according to senior researcher for RP Data Cameron Kusher.
In his analysis of the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Income and Distribution Survey, Mr Kusher found there had been a lift in the proportion of households with a mortgage and those occupied by renters.
The survey showed that between 2011 and 2012, 36.6 per cent of households held a mortgage, compared to outright ownership at 30.9 per cent and 30.3 per cent for rentals.
Mr Kusher said that an interesting finding was that 15 years ago, 41.3 per cent of homes were owned outright compared to 28.3 per cent which were mortgaged, while 27.9 per cent were rented.
He explained that a rise in the proportion of households that were owned with a mortgage was likely to be one of the factors leading to a drop in consumer spending.
"With a recent shift in consumer attitudes away from spending and more toward savings, the high proportion of the population with a mortgage is also likely to be having a dampening effect on retail trade and subsequently economic growth," he said.
"It’s no wonder we keep hearing of retailers finding it so tough. In fact, retail trade figures released this week for the 2012/2013 financial year showed that retail trade increased at is slowest pace over a financial year in 51 years.
"If we consider that a majority of Australia’s rental accommodation is largely privately owned as opposed to owned by a company or the government, private owners of rental properties either have a mortgage or would own these properties outright."
This additional investment in housing by the private sector was probably hindering spending in other areas of the economy.
With the election confirmed, Mr Kusher said housing affordability should be an election issue but this looked unlikely.
"With low interest rates and the likelihood of further cuts, we are seeing housing transaction activity rise and subsequently, values are also now rising once more," he said.
"The RBA governor, Glenn Stevens, has previously argued that he would like to see a pick-up in dwelling construction on the back of low interest rates rather than an increase in home values."