Housing slowdown confirmed by latest mortgage stats

There has been minimal growth in owner-occupier mortgage numbers over the past year, although the average first home buyer loan has jumped almost 10 per cent.

Home buyers made $30.4 billion of housing finance commitments in February, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, marking a 10.0 per cent rise on the previous year.

The owner-occupied share of those commitments climbed 8.5 per cent to $18.3 billion, while the investor share jumped 12.3 per cent to $12.1 billion.

There was a relatively smaller increase in the number of owner-occupied dwelling commitments, which rose 2.2 per cent to 53,614.

That included a 3.0 per cent rise in commitments to buy established properties, which reached 44,995.

Commitments to purchase new homes climbed 2.3 per cent to 2,676, while commitments to build new homes fell 3.2 per cent to 5,942.

The average loan size for owner-occupiers was $337,200 – up 6.8 per cent on the previous year. The average mortgage for first home buyers jumped 9.5 per cent to $331,200.

First home buyers represented 13.7 per cent of owner-occupied commitments in February, compared with 12.5 per cent for the corresponding period last year.

This is the first release of housing finance data since the Reserve Bank reduced interest rates in February.

Real Estate Institute of Australia president Neville Sanders said the statistics show that the concerns of an overheating property market should be laid to rest.

“The February 2015 lending figures indicate a market that is moderating, with February being the 15th consecutive month of modest drops in lending levels if refinancing is excluded,” Mr Sanders said.

Rob Elsom, director of Hockingstuart’s Carlton and Brunswick offices, said investors were holding back because they know another rate cut is likely in coming months.

“As a result we’re seeing first home buyers, who are desperate to get their hands on a property and make the most of the current low rates, outbidding investors,” Mr Elsom said.

[Related: What can be done to help first home buyers?]

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