The level of first home buyers nationally has hit record lows, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) housing finance data. However, the debate is underway over the broad slowdown, with one analyst believing the figures may be a result of skewed responses to the ABS.
RP Data research director Tim Lawless said recent figures from the ABS highlighted a "severe" lack of first home buyer participation in the market, while there is anecdotal evidence that some first home buyers are simply not indicating to the ABS that they are first home buyers.
Mr Lawless believes that where a first home buyer is not eligible for a grant or a concession, they may simply be flying below the radar and not being counted.
“More first-time buyers aren’t purchasing a principal place of residence; they are buying an investment property, which means they aren’t counted in the Bureau of Statistics' first home buyer numbers,” Mr Lawless said.
“When the First Home Buyer Grant Boost was available in 2009, we saw the number of first-timers active in the housing market surge higher because this cohort of the market scrambled for the $14,000 available on an established purchase of $21,000 for a new home.
“When the ‘boost’ to the First Home Buyer Grant was scaled back in October 2009 and then removed in January 2010, we saw first home buyer numbers virtually fall off a cliff. This trend is later echoed in a surge in first home buyer numbers at different times across different regions and can be attributed to the state-centric incentives available at different times.”
Mr Lawless said that for many first home buyers, the areas they want to live in are simply too expensive for them to buy in, so they are purchasing an investment property and then renting in an area closer to where they work.
The ABS housing finance data figures for August found only 6,054 first home buyers signed up for housing finance, the lowest month-on-month reading since 2000.
The figures also show first home buyer mortgages accounted for 77,869 new loans over the 12 months ending August 2014, the lowest annual number on record.