Housing finance data for December 2015 was released late last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The data showed that in December 2015 there were $33.5 billion worth of housing finance commitments.
Of this figure, $14.4 billion was for new lending to owner occupiers, $7.4 billion was for refinances by owner occupiers and $11.6 billion was to investors.
Over the past month, the value of lending for owner occupier new loans has fallen by – 0.5%, owner occupier refinance commitments are 3.9% higher and investor finance commitments are 0.6% higher.
Year-on-year the changes have been recorded at +14.9% for owner occupier new loans, +36.3% for owner occupier refinances and -13.6% for investment loans.
Over the second half of the year investor mortgage demand has faded whilst demand from owner occupiers for new loans has increased strongly.
Last week the ABS also released overseas arrivals and departures data for December 2015.
The data showed that net migration into Australia is set to continue to ease with 275,300 net long-term and permanent arrivals in Australia over the past year.
This is actually the lowest number of annual net arrivals to Australia since the 12 months to May 2007.
The Reserve Banks published the minutes of their February board meeting earlier this week.
At the meeting the RBA board decided to keep official interest rates on hold.
Relating to the housing sector the minutes noted that the RBA’s liaison suggests that although they have had concerns about an over-supply of high-density housing in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that demand had been sufficient to absorb the new supply.
On the other hand, demand was noticeably weaker in Perth.
The minutes also noted while developers weren’t showing substantial signs of financial distress an increasing number of projects were being put on-hold, particularly in areas having a concern with over-supply.
The minutes noted further that home values had eased a little over recent months.
Over the week ending February 14 2016, CoreLogic RP Data captured 1,219 auction results, accounting for more than 87% of all auctions held across the capital cities.
The final auction clearance rate over the past week was recorded at 71.8%, up from 70.1% over the previous week.
This represented the highest national clearance rate since early September last year, although, it is important to note that volumes are still rebounding from the seasonal slowdown and are lower than they were a year ago.
In Sydney the auction clearance rate was 78.1% across 448 results, which is the highest clearance rate for the city since early August 2015.
Melbourne’s clearance rate was 74.4% last week down from 77.6% over the previous week.
It is still premature to judge the health of auction markets.
As auction numbers rise over the coming weeks we will continue to get a better feel for how auction activity is tracking relative to last year.
Note that sales listings are based on a rolling 28 day count of unique properties that have been advertised for sale.
The national number of newly advertised properties was 3.8% higher relative to the same period one year ago with 46,526 properties added to the listings pool over the past twenty eight days.
Across the combined capital cities new listings are 4.3% higher than they were at the same time last year however, only Sydney (+6.0%), Melbourne (+9.8%) and Adelaide (+6.8%) have more new listings than a year ago.
The total number of properties available for sale is higher than a year ago across both the national (1.5%) and combined capital city (5.2%) markets.
Across the capital cities the higher number of total listings is due to Sydney (+20.3%), Perth (+11.9%) and Darwin (+11.4%) with total listings lower elsewhere.
The heightened level of total listings in these cities means buyers have more choice and vendors may have to increasingly discount the initial listing price in order to achieve a sale.