Post 3: Mapping the participants (human and non-human) and constructing an image archive
Initial Stakeholder Maps
If I were to have mapped out the participants and stakeholders within the issue of housing affordability before the start of semester, my maps would’ve probably revolved around ‘investors’ and ‘foreign buyers’ and how they are snatching up all of our homes, a notion that the media has been pushing since the sudden increase in Chinese real estate buyers in 2015. However, even with just three weeks of secondary research on the topic, the maps that I’ve produced have started to show how complex the issue is, and all of the human and non-human factors that are affect and are affected by housing affordability. The great thing about mapping is that you can visually see the links between major stakeholders and how they may interact with each other.
While drawing on my knowledge of the topic so far, I feel that there’s a significant tension between the expectations of a house in terms of role fulfilment and locational convenience vs. how much one is willing to pay for it (or how unaffordable it might be). This is definitely something that I’ll be keeping in the corner of my mind during future exploration.
My first thought when I saw this picture was, ‘is this picture upside down or…?’ but then I noticed that the 800,000 coin was written the right way round – is it a coincidence that the artist has written the highest amount of coin the right way?
Visually the picture depicts money falling down from the fancy accommodation buildings, with this sort of notion generally depicting that you are losing money from investing into housing. However I interpret this illustration as showing how difficult it is to firstly find appropriate housing, due to the over-decorative depictions of buildings that accommodate hundreds of people and affect personal privacy, and then secondly how difficult it is to then put money into housing, with people having to go against ‘gravity’ to make things work. As always, art is subjective, however even after looking at the three elements of money, fancy apartment accommodation and the ‘for sale’ sign, it is logical to see that this image portrays the housing affordability issue.
I feel that this image really sums up the perspective of those in the Generation Y bracket, along with the condition of the current housing market and the issues that Generation Y face when it comes to their first home investment. While the differing sizes and conditions of the houses make the meaning of the image very straightforward in terms of the housing situations of each generation, it also expresses the amount of money that each generation has built up over time. And when it comes to Generation Y and Generation X competing with those from the Baby Boomer generation during an auction for property, it is clear who will likely win.
This opinion is not something that is marginal, as several articles that I’ve read have pointed to the difficulties that Generation Y face when it comes to buying their first property. However, I feel it’s important to note that despite the difficulties of entering the housing market on their lower starting incomes, Generation Y does have the option of borrowing from their parents or grandparents who do have those deeper pockets.
Three people are watching the land in the surrounding neighbourhood being prepared for urban growth; from the size of the land that they’re working on, it doesn’t look like the location is anywhere near the main city which, from reading articles, is where people want to live closer to. This raises the question of whether or not this sort of urban sprawl is going to be one of the more successful ways to help the issue of housing affordability, when people are reluctant to move out from their homes that are closer to the major cities and hence more convenient, despite the higher price tag.
When I think of urban density and accommodating for the growing population, I think of high rise apartments as a way of compacting a large number of people into a small land space. The cold tone of this photograph, along with the tightly packed windows and so many curtains closed, express this mode of living as having little to no privacy, individuality and it lacks the warm feeling of a home that most people would seek.
From the first article that I read and analysed in my second blog post, the authors Bruce and Kelly (2013) recognise that for Generation Y, a house is an important medium for expressing individuality and also needs to perform on more than just a physical level. With this in mind, it is skeptical whether first home owners from Generation Y would be willing to invest in an apartment like in this photo, and if the apartments are located within or close to the city, the financial aspect would also deem itself an issue.
How easy would it be if everyone was just handed out an equal amount of cash at the beginning of their house buying journey and, after a roll of the dice and your more than sufficient wallet, it was just a decision of investing or not? I’ve always chosen to buy and invest when it came to playing Monopoly, and in turn I received hefty sums from people stopping on my properties. It was when I thought about it this way, I realised that this is exactly what property investors are doing. They don’t care whether or not the newly graduated 25 year old is able to purchase a house or not, it’s all about the personal financial benefits that come from property investment.
While Monopoly gives everyone a reasonably equal opportunity and an even wallet at the beginning of the game, in reality the property market doesn’t provide equal opportunities and those who have already a few properties under their name or those who have been working for over a decade have a much higher chance than the Generation Y individual who just wants to move out of their parent’s home.
According to the caption of the image, this auction in Surry Hills was won by a Chinese phone bidder at the price of $965,000 which immediately leads me to assume that they are a foreign property investor and judge the buyer as someone who doesn’t even have the courtesy to show up physically to an auction, despite the several upsides of phone bidding (which prove it as not necessarily a bad thing). The first thing you see in this photo are the two Asian people in the foreground, both holding phones and seemingly communicating with the bidder; the photograph depicts them in a way that makes them look dominating, aggressive in bidding and also in control.
Just from my judging alone, it is easy to see how and why the media would portray Chinese investors in such a negative and selfish light, however it is important to keep in mind that no matter what nationality, the older generations will always be more advantaged than the younger ones in this situation.
This graph shows the percentage of home owners with a mortgage debt, based on statistics from the ABS Surveys of Income and Housing. As a statistical image, it is clear that there has been a rising percentage in mortgage debt throughout every age range, which proves the point that even though wages have increased throughout the years, it hasn’t kept up to the rate that housing or the cost of living has increased.
While the issue of housing affordability is something that can have an emotional and mental impact which makes it easy to judge and make assumptions, it is important to know the statistical facts and understand them for what they are as many arguments can be disproved through unbiased data analysis.
A metaphorical photograph that expresses the dream of owning a beautiful house as something that floats away and pops as easily as a bubble, along with leaving us wondering when the Australian housing bubble will pop. The message in this image is straightforward, that there is the issue of housing affordability and it is becoming unreachable; this is something that almost all of the articles I’ve read are sure about.
Just like the image above, this illustration depicts the unattainable dream of owning a house through the obviously large gap between the ladder and the house, and then the difficulties of even getting to the top of the ladder with little support. This immediately makes me think of the lack of support that the government gives to support first home buyers in comparison to those more experienced in the housing market or those with deeper pockets.
The reason why I chose this last image is that it represents a message that I feel is underestimated; that not being able to afford a house isn’t just an issue on a physical level, but it also affects an individual’s emotional, mental and psychological state. From the articles I’ve read, some individuals have tried to get themselves to accept the fact that they will possibly never be able to afford their own house within their lifetime, and this is something that is mentally degrading and unmotivating, it’s something that people shouldn’t have to accept.
While this was meant to be quite an analytical and objective research task, I couldn’t help but find myself constantly seeing the more emotionally impacting side of housing affordability. I was quick to judge and make assumptions, especially in regards to investors, intergenerational differences and the difficulties of attaining the housing dream – it might be that these topics have been blown out of proportion (by the media) or there is just a general lack of awareness.
Bruce, M. & Kelly, S. 2013, ‘Expectations, Identity and Affordability: The Housing Dreams of Australia’s Generation Y’, Housing, Theory and Society, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 416-432.
Ditchburn, J. 2007, Figure 2: Housing Affordability, The Property Shop, viewed 27 August 2016, <http://propertymudgee.com/tag/housing-affordability>.
Figure 1: Untitled n.d., Jonathan Sri, viewed 27 August 2016, <http://jonathansri.com/issues/housing>.
Figure 6: Surry Hills Auction n.d., news.com.au, viewed 27 August 2016, <http://www.news.com.au/finance/real-estate/buying/is-the-chinese-property-boom-over/news-story/858ccbd77b050edb04ca9f5c994cddbb>.
Figure 7: Percentage of Home Owners with a Mortgage Debt n.d., The Conversation, viewed 27 August 2016, <https://theconversation.com/the-facts-on-australian-housing-affordability-42881>.
Figure 8: The Australian Housing Bubble n.d., Financial Sense, viewed 28 August 2016, <http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/global-risk-insights/australia-s-housing-bubble-myth>.
Figure 9: The Unattainable Housing Dream n.d., Post-Gazette, viewed 26 August 2016, <http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/letters/2016/05/16/The-PG-is-wrong-about-housing-affordability/stories/201605140046>.
Figure 10: Housing, a Mental Health Issue 2016, Red Pepper, viewed 27 August 2016, <http://www.redpepper.org.uk/housing-is-a-mental-health-issue>.
Furlong, C. n.d., Figure 5: Monopoly, Business Insider, viewed 28 August 2016, <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/australian-house-prices-are-marching-higher-again-even-with-softer-auction-clearance-rates-2016-5>.
Richardson, C. n.d., Figure 3: The Growing Urban Boundary, The Advertiser, viewed 26 August 2016, <http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/ipad/government-plan-for-liveability-cities-more-efficient-outer-regions-more-attractive/story-fn6t2xlc-1226055523558>.
Wei, E. n.d., Figure 4: East Asian High-Rise Apartments, The Conversation, viewed 27 August 2016, <https://theconversation.com/the-carbon-devil-in-the-detail-on-urban-density-4226>.