RETIREMENT mecca the Gold Coast and Sydney's blue-chip Vaucluse have joined struggling south-western Sydney as the areas suffering most from mortgage stress and loan defaults.
More than 840,000 residential mortgages - valued at $140 billion - were outstanding at the end of September, a global ratings agency has estimated, adding interest rate rises in late 2007 and 2008 were to blame.
Australian mortgage delinquency rose in the six months between April and September this year, Fitch Ratings said.
South-western and western Sydney remain the nation's mortgage stress hotspots, but there have been significant changes in the suburbs of Perth, South-East Queensland and NSW regional areas, such as Wollongong, Newcastle and the Central Coast.
Helensvale, on the Gold Coast, is the most mortgage-stressed suburb in Australia, but one of the nation's most affluent addresses - Vaucluse - is rated seventh worst by loan value.
The top 10 suburbs and towns listed as suffering the most mortgage stress are: Helensvale (Qld), Nelson Bay (NSW), Raymond Terrace (NSW), Katoomba (NSW), Greenacre (NSW), Guildford (NSW), Vaucluse (NSW), Fairfield (NSW), Cessnock (NSW) and St Marys (NSW).
Mortgage performance is expected to continue to deteriorate on the back of the Christmas spending season and the rapidly slowing economy, Fitch says.
"On a national basis, Australian mortgages, by value, that missed one or more payments, increased to 2.13 per cent from 1.88 per cent," said Ben McCarthy, from Structured Finance, who authored the Fitch report.
But a finding in the report suggests loans made between 2002 and 2007 are easier to service today than when the loan was first taken out.
"From this point of view if unemployment can remain subdued the Australian mortgage market will continue to perform well," Mr McCarthy said.