HOME owners have raided their superannuation funds of a record $100 million in last-ditch bids to avoid foreclosure, new government figures have shown.
The surge in mortgage-holders seeking emergency access to their savings has alarmed housing and social welfare groups, who warn many families are still struggling to meet loan repayments despite steep cuts in the interest rate.
With distressed owners receiving an average of $15,250 each, there are also concerns some super accounts could be drained of more than a third of their value. The number of households in serious financial trouble has worsened despite mortgage lending rates falling about 1 per cent in the past six months and nearly 3 per cent since their peak in mid-2008.
Figures obtained by The Sun-Herald showed 6500 home owners were given emergency access to their super last financial year to prevent an imminent foreclosure.
A Commonwealth Department of Human Services report found $99.38 million was released, up 25 per cent on 2010-11 and well above the disbursements in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
It also marks the third year in a row that the number of people applying for, and being granted access to, their nest-egg has increased.
A campaign manager for Australians for Affordable Housing, Sarah Toohey, said years of house price growth had seen debt balloon and forced households to devote an unsustainable amount of income to meeting mortgage repayments.
"It's alarming and it shows that housing affordability is about more than just interest rates," she said.
"The sheer size of what people have to borrow to get into the housing market now really puts household finances under strain."