A single mother’s ‘dream’ of becoming a homeowner has become a nightmare as she struggles to survive the rising cost of living.
Jodi Cameron, 40, from Melbourne, currently has nothing in her bank account after her home cost more to build than expected. She can’t even afford to finish the house, with her driveway unfinished because she has run out of money.
On Tuesday afternoon, she was hit with more bad news; the Reserve Bank of Australia had again raised its interest rates, for the fourth consecutive month.
That means the single mother, with two daughters aged four and eight, now has to shell out an extra $140 every month to pay off her mortgage.
In total, since the central bank started raising interest rates in May, the family is now paying off $360 more a month – money they desperately need.
“It’s just awful,” Ms Cameron told news.com.au.
“I find myself in a situation where paying rent and mortgage and childcare costs, there’s nothing left.”
Currently, her savings account is at $0, she said.
The mum has worked throughout the Covid pandemic as a disability support worker and blames her current situation on one thing – missing out on a government grant.
She had factored in receiving a $15,000 grant to help her build her own home, but missed out, leaving her financially ruined.
“I just wanted to own my own house,” Ms Cameron explained.
“It’s just disgusting, it’s so frustrating, I’m working my guts out, all I wanted was the big Aussie dream.”
Its variable interest rate has risen from 2.79% to 4.5% over the past three months and is expected to rise further after Tuesday’s rate hike.
“I’m not on a fixed mortgage, I don’t know how I’m going to do that,” Ms Cameron said.
“I’ll probably have to pull my [youngest] daughter out of daycare because I can’t afford daycare. It also means, how am I supposed to work from home with a child? »
As a single mother with no family to fall back on, Ms Cameron had resigned herself to renting, but in 2020 she was given hope that she could break into the property market.
The federal government announced the HomeBuilder grant program in a bid to stimulate the economy and the construction sector during the Covid disruptions, where eligible homeowners received $15,000 to be part of the payment for a construction project for their primary residence.
Ms. Cameron met all the criteria for the grant, so bought land for $263,000 in Lang Lang, a regional town southeast of Melbourne, in August 2020 in hopes of preparing financially for the future.
“I opted for the low deposit program, I didn’t need a massive deposit,” she explained.
Then, in March of the following year, she signed a construction contract that cost $300,000 for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.
She only needed a 5% down payment for the land and building contracts and expected the additional $15,000 from the grant to provide a useful buffer to pay progress payments.
But then she logged back into the HomeBuilder online portal and was devastated to find she had missed a key due date – which her broker and bank had never mentioned to her.
“I missed a portal deadline that was never posted or announced anywhere,” Ms Cameron lamented.
As a result, she was unable to participate in the program.
Near the end of its construction, the mother ran out of funds and could not afford to pay for a driveway.
“I don’t have a driveway, it’s just mud, I can’t afford it, it’s not right to have that money ripped off that you were relying on,” she added. .
“I owe real estate the last month’s rent that I cannot pay.
“I assumed I would have that $15,000 to help me, I don’t. This grant meant a lot.
The mother is now waiting impatiently, as the Reserve Bank is expected to continue raising interest rates until the end of the year.