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Housing finance shows signs of improvement

Housing finance shows signs of improvement

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Staff Reporter

The number of finance commitments increased in September 2011, driven by a jump in first home buyer activity.

According to the latest housing finance data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in trend terms the number of finance commitments increased 1.2 per cent – the fifth consecutive monthly increase.

In trend terms, increases were recorded in all states and territories, except the ACT. New South Wales recorded the largest increase, up 1.5 per cent.

And October may be better yet, if the figures released earlier this month by mortgage broker aggregator AFG are anything to go by. According to the latest AFG Mortgage Index, first home buyers comprised 16.4 per cent of all loans processed – a 40 per cent increase for this buyer category compared to October 2010 when they comprised 11.8 per cent of the mortgage market.

“The upturn in lending commitments reflects a period of stability in interest rates and the housing market as well as increased competition among lenders,” Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) acting president Pamela Bennett said in relation to the ABS' September data.

The number of first home buyers, as a percentage of total owner occupied housing commitments increased to 16.4 per cent in September compared to 15.4 per cent in August.

Although this proportion is well below the long-run average of 20.1 per cent, and dramatically down from the 28.5 per cent level of April 2009, the property market is seeing a modest return of first home buyers.

The value of investment housing commitments increased by 1.0 per cent (in trend terms) in September and is the third consecutive month of increases, following fourteen consecutive months of falls.

“The latest figures show that buyers are gradually returning to the market and we should expect modest increases to continue after the decision on interest rates in November which has made housing more affordable for first home buyers,” Ms Bennett said.

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