Young people and those in need of affordable housing fear they are being left behind after news the median value of properties in Wollongong has tipped over the $1 million mark.
Many have long given up on the dream of owning their home and are even struggling to get into the rental market.
Mount Ousley's Zachery Rankin, 24, has spent over a year, with no luck, securing a rental in Wollongong or further south with his sister and friend.
The shift worker believes it is because of his lack of rental history given he still lives at home with his parents and realises his ambition to own his own home are slipping away given the market.
"Prices are going up dramatically, not just with renting but with buying," he said. "I feel that out of the three of us, only one has rental history. A lot of real estates tend to look over us as we don't have that good record."
Local chair of the Real Estate Institute and auctioneer Jake Mackenzie said demand for rentals was high and from speaking to property managers if was difficult for people without rental history to secure a place because there were many tenants with a good record and some were offering more weekly rent or paid months in advance.
The median dwelling value (houses and units combined) in Wollongong (the city, not the LGA) was $1,022,402 at the end of October, according to CoreLogic figures.
Mr Rankin said purchasing a house in the future as a first home buyer was "unfortunately unattainable now".
"I know I can't afford to own a house," he said. "The price of houses rises but the pay rate of many stays the same. Buying houses now is unfortunately for the rich and well off while the rest of us are left behind."
"Something needs to give, either less fluctuation with housing prices or raise the wages of workers," he said.
"It is disheartening, knowing those with money can afford to live, and everyone else has to either stay at home with family, or get a share house to lower the cost of living.
"Saving money is still achievable, but with personal bills and other weekly costs, it doesn't leave a lot to put away."
Mr Mackenzie said the property market was heated at the moment with a lot of competition from people for all types of housing but mostly standalone homes.
"There are many registered bidders for each auction and they are bidding well above the expectations of the real estate agents and vendors," he said.
"It makes it tough for first home buyers, even to get into the traditionally entry-level suburbs such as Figtree and Unanderra, but now they are being priced out of those places.
"The age of first home buyers seems to be people a bit older as people are struggling to keep up with the increase in price. By the time they save $100,000 the price has gone up.
"Buyers need to use the support of family, if they have it, especially parents going guarantor if they have equity in their home."
One of those parents helping his 21-year-old son get into the property market is Wollongong businessman Alex Filceski.
His son would "have no other choice and wouldn't be able to afford a place" without the financial support of his parents and them going guarantor.
"It is getting impossible for young people, the next generation, to get into the market without their parents' help," Mr Filceski said.
His son is looking for a one or two bedroom older unit in and around the centre of Wollongong as an investment to get his foot into the property market.
Mr Filceski encouraged his son to save hard and get out to inspections to get a feel for the market. He also noted investors are pushing up prices and there is a lack of stock and high demand for properties.
Mercury readers took to Facebook to express their dismay at Wollongong becoming a million dollar suburb.
"It's absolutely ridiculous," Todd Derksen said. "Its turning into a town for the rich and childless. If you're a regular working family you can't afford to buy a house and there are next to no rentals available."
"Young people working so hard to put a deposit on their first home and are pushed out of the market," Janet Griffiths said. "Prices are ridiculous, they have no chance to purchase a home, it's the rich getting richer. Something has to change.
"Also stop these developers buying an old homes, knocking them down then building four and five villas or townhouses on the block to make a profit five-fold, so wrong."
While Ally Marie said she would "never be able to afford a home in the Illawarra".
"I'm a single mum on a good wage but I have to move out west to the country because it's too expensive here."
CoreLogic's head of research Eliza Owen said lack of supply was a persistent issue across regional NSW, and was evident across listings in Wollongong.
"Looking at the broader Wollongong market, monthly growth has slowed from a peak of 4.1 per cent in March 2021, to 0.9 per cent through October 2021," she said.
"Affordability constraints are likely one of the main constraints on the monthly growth rate."
Earlier this year, it was revealed that more than a dozen Illawarra suburbs had joined the housing market's million-dollar club during the previous 12 months.
Meanwhile, Housing Trust CEO, Michele Adair responded to the state government-commissioned Regional Housing Recommendation Report but said it's five key recommendations failed to address the need to increase the supply of affordable rental housing.
"There's too much emphasis on home purchase - and not rental. Buying a home is out of reach for tens of thousands of people and they are our 'local heroes', the essential workers who've got us though the pandemic," Ms Adair said.
"In the Illawarra-Shoalhaven region we have some of the least affordable housing in the nation. Buying a home is no longer the great Australian dream. It's the impossible dream.
"We need to make renting affordable and secure for the long term. The biggest and most damaging gap in supply right now is in the area of social and affordable rental housing .
"Many areas have effectively no rentals vacancies and waiting lists of 10 years or more."
The recommendations included increasing supply of developable land; providing more certainty about where, when and what types of homes will be built; increasing the availability of affordable and diverse houses; investigating planner levers to facilitate the delivery of housing that meet short-term needs and improving monitoring of housing and policy outcomes.
"The recommendations risk the creation of even more government interventions that will artificially inflate purchase prices without doing anything to address the real need for affordable rental housing supply," Ms Adair said.
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