New data has revealed a big increase in new buyers in 2014, suggesting the first home buyer problem may be less concerning than once thought.
First home buyers represented 14.5 per cent of housing finance commitments in December 2014, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
That compares to a 12.7 per cent share in December 2013.
This is the first release of housing finance data since the ABS recently admitted to a methodology error, which led to a 26 per cent inaccuracy in its first home buyer statistics.
Amanda Lynch, chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, said the latest statistics do little to ease concerns within the industry about first home buyer numbers.
Ms Lynch said the December result is the lowest since May 2004 and represents a steady decline since May 2012.
Meanwhile, the ABS data also showed that total housing finance commitments increased 13.1 per cent year-on-year to $30.6 billion.
The owner-occupied share of those commitments rose 10.8 per cent to $18.0 billion, while the investor share jumped 16.7 per cent to $12.6 billion.
There was less growth in the number of owner-occupied finance commitments, which climbed 4.3 per cent to 53,920.
That included a 4.0 per cent rise in established dwelling numbers to 44,912 and a 9.5 per cent rise in dwelling construction numbers to 6,258.
However, new dwelling purchase numbers actually fell, declining 1.8 per cent to 2,750.
Housing Industry Association economist Diwa Hopkins said housing construction loans finished 2014 on a strong note.
“Investors are likely to continue playing a key role in adding to the stock of new housing in 2015,” Ms Hopkins said.
“The owner-occupier side of the market, however, appears to be losing some momentum.
“While overall owner-occupier lending levels remain strong, some signs have emerged that the growth typical of 2013 and much of 2014 may now be moderating.”
[Related: Economist forecasts ‘building boom’ in 2015]