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Queensland tourism destinations have featured in nine of 10 «hotspots» for mortgage deferrals as operators looked to recoup costs during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New analysis from Equifax, which analysed repayment information from the big four banks, found that when broken down by region mortgage holders in the Whitsundays were the most likely to defer repayments. The Whitsundays was followed by Noosa, Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta and much of the Gold Coast Hinterland.
A full list of the top 10 mortgage deferral hotspots can be found below.
The only non-Queensland region to break into the top 10 was the Melbourne suburbs of Tullamarine-Broadmeadows, which was ranked as number nine. General Manager of Advisory and Solutions at Equifax Kevin James said the analysis showed the true cost of border shutdowns for states that relied on domestic and international tourism.
«The impact of the downturn on tourist trade is acute for Australians living in tourism-dependent Queensland regions», Mr James said.
«Tourism is a major industry for Queensland, and with international and domestic visitors curtailed during the pandemic, tourist hotspots have faced reduced occupancy rates, lower incomes and higher levels of unemployment leaving mortgage holders feeling the pinch.
«With the Queensland border beginning to reopen to parts of NSW and SA this week, we expect to see a bounce back as tourism dollars start to flow back into the region.» During the peak of the first COVID-19 lockdown, all of the big four banks offered customers under pandemic-related financial stress the option of putting their mortgage on pause for six months. Under the initiative, labelled a «mortgage holiday», affected customers could simply transplant a six-month period of their loan during the pandemic onto the end of their planned term. Figures from the Australian Banking Association (ABA) showed that a total of 703,000 loans were deferred under the initiative, carrying a worth of $211 billion. Of these, more than 429,000 were private residential mortgages – marking one in 14 mortgages that were deferred under the initiative. Surprisingly, the Equifax analysis showed that the age group most likely to defer repayments were those aged 36 to 45, and not first home buyers as originally expected. «There are more middle-aged people seeking mortgage payment relief than any other age group,» Mr James said. «This group is likely to have relatively high outstanding mortgage balances and may have been harder hit with business lay-offs or lower income from JobKeeper payments.»

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