By Penny Timms
PHOTO: Property prices around Penrith have jumped about 50 per cent in just three years. (ABC News: Ian Cutmore)
People in the marginal seat of Lindsay in western Sydney say house prices will determine their vote in the upcoming federal election.
Like most of Sydney, the Lindsay electorate has witnessed a surge in prices in recent years.
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According to Wentworth Community housing, property prices around Penrith have jumped about 50 per cent in just three years.
While for some that news has been good, as their houses prices almost double, for others it has meant they have been priced out of the market entirely, with few places left to turn.
Home ownership a lost dream
For Jane McGhee, the dream of home ownership was a reality just a couple of years ago, but a dramatic change in personal circumstances for the mother of four saw her lose her family home, and much of her savings.
“I have come down the ranks of being the owner of a beautiful, brand new home, and then in the private rental market, which was absolutely horrendous, and then now being blessed with a nice home in affordable housing,” she said.
Ms McGhee said it was “heartbreaking” to see what was happening in the community, “because the rent in the private market, and especially for single parents like myself on one income … it’s just beyond our reach”.
Ms McGhee said she was usually a Labor voter, but this time she would be weighing up all her options.
“It’s going to be a huge issue for me, because usually when it comes to elections I’ve always voted Labor because my father followed Labor,” she said.
“It’s going to be one of the first times I actually look into more about what they’re backing, what they’re going to bring to the community.”
Young people ‘haven’t got a hope’
Ms McGhee’s story was a familiar one for Sheila, who lost her home during a messy divorce.
After renting the same property for 14 years, her landlord sold the house, and Sheila said she could not find anywhere else to rent.
“I had no idea it would be so hard to apply for a place,” she said. “And when I went actually to make an appointment, there were 30 other people going for that unit.”
So Sheila ended up in affordable housing.
Barbara Brown, a neighbour of Sheila’s, said she was watching closely what each party had to offer.
“I look at people around me who are all struggling,” she said.
“It’s very hard, very difficult to actually survive in the environment that we’re living in at the moment, because of the housing problem.
“People are getting priced out of buying their own homes, especially young couples, which I really feel strongly about — they haven’t got a hope.”
Julian Galea, a long-time Liberal voter, said he once owned his own home but was forced out of the market during a jobs downturn.
He said he had given up on the dream of owning his own home.
“I remember back in the early 2000s, when people were buying investment properties like they were going out of fashion, and everyone’s got four or five investment properties,” he said.
Mr Galea said house prices would be an important issue for him this election.
“Because for my kids … the one that just moved out, I can’t see them ever buying a house,” he said.
“I’ve already given up on it, and I’ve got two young kids who are six and four, who I hope to have a chance of buying a house without having to buy in the middle of Australia somewhere.”