PHOTO: House prices in Australia are soaring again. (ABC Gold Coast: Sarah Cumming )

It’s tempting to think home prices are soaring because there aren’t enough homes.

But that can’t explain the sudden take-off from about the year 2000, the sudden take-off from about 2013, and again now — against expectations — the stratospheric take-off in the wake of the COVID recession.

Broadly, we’ve enough homes. The 2016 census found we had 12 per cent more dwellings than households, up from 10 per cent in 2001.

That’s 12 per cent of our houses and apartments empty — used as holiday homes and second homes, or waiting for tenants.

If there really weren’t enough homes for people who wanted them, it would be more than property prices soaring; it would be rents.

Instead, overall rents have been barely moving – growing even more slowly than wages – for half a decade.

A line graph comparing the rent price index and the wage price index
December 2009 = 100. (ABS Wage Price Index; Rent Price Index From Consumer Price Index.)

For the half-decade from 2016, a half-decade in which Australia’s population grew by more than one million, Australian rents barely moved.

The supply of places to live in has kept pace with the demand for places to live in, but the supply of places to own has not.