The findings show that 23.9% of Australian mortgage holders, or 1.1 million households, are already categorized as "At Risk," meaning their mortgage payments exceed a certain percentage of their income. This is the highest level of mortgage stress since July 2013.

If the Reserve Bank goes ahead with the 0.25% rate hikes, the study predicts that mortgage stress will affect 1.2 million households, or 26.3% of mortgage holders. Roy Morgan cautions that this is a conservative estimate and does not account for other factors that may affect the ability of households to pay their mortgages, such as job loss.

Since April 2022, average variable mortgage repayments have increased by 41%, and a further 0.5% rate hike could push them up by 48%. This would result in an additional $1,071 per month for a borrower with a $500,000 variable mortgage.

Another factor adding to the stress on mortgage holders is the expiration of rock-bottom fixed mortgage rates that were offered during the pandemic. Approximately 40% of mortgages originated during this period had rates of around 2.25%, and two-thirds of these will reset to higher rates by the end of 2023, putting even more pressure on already stressed household budgets.