The Federal Budget for 2013-14 was released earlier this week. Specifically relating to housing there wasn’t much in the Budget however, a trial scheme was announced for aged pensioners looking to downsize their home.
The scheme will begin operation in July 2014 and will allow pensioners that have owned their home for more than 25 years will have the opportunity to invest a surplus fund of up to $200,000 into an account. This fund will then earn interest and will be exempt from the age pension for up to 10 years.
This will mean that pensioners who downsize their homes can put the proceeds of the sale into this fund and it will not count against their pension in relation to the asset and income test.
Housing finance data was released earlier this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for March 2013. The data release showed the number of owner occupier finance commitments rose by 7.2% over the month for new loans compared to a 1.1% increase in refinance loans.
Year on year, new loan commitments have increased by 13.8% compared to a -7.2% fall in refinance commitments. The data supports the notion of increasing demand for home loans win new loan commitments having increased over 9 of the past 12 months.
The total value of housing finance commitments shows a recent surge in activity for loans for investment purposes. In March, the value of investment loans rose by 2.1% and year on year, the value of investment loans has increased by 21.3%.
The 21.3% increase in the value of investment loans over the year is the largest increase since November 2007 (25.6%). The data clearly indicates a strong level of investor activity returning to the residential housing market.
Although owner occupier finance commitments are ramping up, the data suggests that first time buyers are still taking little part in the market. The number of first time buyer commitments rose by 11.4% however, year on year they are -16.4% lower.
As a proportion of all owner occupier finance commitments over the month, first home buyers made up just 14.2% which was their lowest proportion since May 2004.
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Latest National Auction Clearance Rates
Last week there were 1,582 capital city auctions, up from 1,749 the previous week. The combined capital city auction clearance rate was recorded at 65.6% last week, up from 67.7% over the previous week. RPData collected results for almost 89% of all capital city auctions which took place last week.
Auction clearance rates have now been above 60% for six consecutive weeks, the last time this occurred was in June 2010. In Melbourne, Australia’s largest auction market, the clearance rate was recorded at 71.3% last week which was up from 70.4% the previous week however, the number of auctions which took place fell to 807 from 822 the previous week.
In Sydney, the auction clearance rate fell to 67.7% last week from 72.7% over the previous week. Auction volumes across the city fell from 585 the previous week to 516 last week. Auction activity is set to fall this week, with our figures indicating that there will be 1,398 capital city auctions this week.
Advertised Stock on the Market
The number of new listings being added to the market fell by -2.0% over last week. 43,312 new listings were added to the market nationally, with 26,397 of these located in a capital city.
Although the number of new listings fell over the week, there was a rise in total listings. There were 286,376 homes advertised for sale over the past four weeks. Across the combined capital cities, there were 128,859 homes available for sale, 45% of the total stock available for sale.
New listings nationally are now -7.4% lower than they were a year ago and total listings are -1.4% lower than they were at the same time last year.