Home loan approvals are off to their strongest start in five years, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed, with a reported two in five loans last month processed for investors.
According to the ABS, 13 per cent more home loans were approved in the first two months of 2014 compared to the same period last year – the highest total of January and February approvals since 2009.
The increase is positive news for real estate agents as new buyers continue to flood the market. Last weekend saw a frenzy of property activity across Australia’s capital cities, with Sydney listing a record number of auctions and positing a 78.1 per cent clearance rate.
"The data released by the ABS confirms that 2014 is off to a great start – homeowners and buyers are returning to the market and they’re building momentum,” said Loan Market director Mark De Martino, who predicted that approvals for March and April could set new records.
He added that in February there were only 227 fewer home loan approvals than the best month in 2013. "We should expect to see demand for finance growing and reaching new highs throughout 2014,” said Mr De Martino, adding that with no clear indication on where rates were going to head next, consumers would benefit from the rate stability and banks aggressively competing for new business.
Meanwhile, AFG’s Mortgage Index showed that 39.6 per cent of all mortgages processed in March were for investors – the highest in the seven years.
A total of 3,384 loans with a total value of $1.6 billion were processed for investors during March, according to Australia's largest mortgage broker.
AFG said investment activity varied from state to state. In NSW, investors accounted for 49 per cent of all new home loans, in Queensland and Victoria it was 37 per cent, while in South Australia and Western Australia it was 32 per cent.
Fixed rate loans comprised 23.9 per cent of all mortgages processed in March, down from 25 per cent in February and from a peak of 30.7 per cent in April 2013.
Loan-to-value ratios, the value of a home loan expressed as a proportion of the property value, remained steady at 68 per cent nationally – the level it has held for much of the past year.