The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released housing finance statistics for February 2014 earlier this week.
As foreshadowed by RP Data’s Mortgage Index, the data showed that over the month there were 52,460 housing finance commitments to owner occupiers which was the highest monthly volume of commitments since October 2009.
This data is separated into owner occupier refinance and owner occupier non-refinance commitments. Refinance commitments rose by 6.0% over the month and were 15.8% higher over the year. Non-refinance commitments are also trending higher, up 0.6% over the month and 12.9% higher year-on-year.
The total value of investment finance commitments hit fresh record highs after a slight dip in January. Over the month there was $10.7 billion in finance commitments to investors, a 4.4% monthly increase and a 32.3% year-on-year increase.
As a proportion of all lending, investors accounted for 38.8% in February 2014 which remains at the highest level recorded since late 2003.
First home buyers continue to take little part in the current housing market despite exceptionally low mortgage rates. In February 2014, first home buyers accounted for 12.5% of all owner occupier finance commitments.[sam id=43 codes=’true’]
The proportion of first home buyers fell from 13.2% in January 2014 and 14.4% a year earlier. In terms of the volume, there was actually an increase in the number of first home buyers over the month, up 0.6% however, year-on-year the number of first home buyers is -1.5% lower.
Housing finance data also showed that the total value of residential mortgages outstanding to Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs) was $1.275 trillion. The amount outstanding has increased by 6.6% over the past year.
Westpac and the Melbourne Institute released their monthly measure of consumer confidence, the Consumer Sentiment Index earlier this week.
The index had fallen over the past four months but rose fractionally in April, rising to 99.7 points from 99.5 points in March. This reading indicates that optimism and pessimism about the economy is fairly evenly balanced currently.
Weekly Clearance Rates
There were 2,692 auctions held across the combined capital cities last week and the weighted average auction clearance rate was recorded at 66.2%, the lowest clearance rate over the past nine weeks.
In comparison, over the previous week, there were 3,039 capital city auctions with a clearance rate of 67.7%. Across Melbourne, Australia’s largest auction market, the auction clearance rate was recorded at 63.6% last week, down from 66.9% over the previous week and its lowest clearance rate of the year.
The number of properties taken to auction was lower over the week, falling from 1,414 the previous week to 1,210 last week.
There were 1,137 Sydney properties taken to auction last week, with a clearance rate of 73.2%, down from 75.9% the previous week when 1,163 auctions were held in the city. RP Data is expecting just over 3,271 auctions over the current week.
Weekly Advertised Listings
Over the four weeks to 6 April, there were 46,357 newly advertised properties listed for sale nationally. The number of newly advertised property listings fell by -3.0% over the week however, they are currently 18.6% higher than at the same time last year. Across the combined capital cities, new listings were -4.0% lower over the week and they were 25.3% higher than a year ago.
There are currently 244,805 properties listed for sale across the country. Total listings at a national level were 0.4% higher over the week but -2.3% lower than they were at the same time last year.
Across the combined capital cities, total listings have increased by 0.5% over the week however, they are -6.6% lower than they were at this time a year ago. Capital city listings account for just 42% of all listings nationally.