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Housing finance accelerates

Total housing finance accelerated to $33.4 billion in seasonally adjusted terms in December 2016, according to the ABS.

The original data showed that the preceding month of November saw an unprecedented $36.8 billion of housing finance commitments.

The smoothed trend figures suggest a strong re-acceleration in total housing finance since February 2016.

For once the December increase was driven by homebuyers rather than investors, although year-on-year investor finance has moved significantly higher (by 21 per cent in trend terms).

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There was a fair increase in the number of owner-occupier loan commitments in December.

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Looking at the average loan size figures suggests that first homebuyers may well be tapped out, while those already in the market are able to use existing equity to use more leverage (in fact, we actually know that this is happening).

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Queensland has the most consistently improving homebuyer sector, although Sydney and Melbourne do look to be shaping upwards again. I’ll look at the investor finance figures in more detail next week.

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As a point of interest, here is where the first homebuyers are taking on the biggest and smallest loans on average.

I predict that first homebuyers may be offered stamp duty relief in the May Budget.

Watch this space.

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Finally the value of loans for for owner-occupied new dwellings appears to have begin to rise again, perhaps as the surge of off-the-plan purchases begin to settle.

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The wrap

As usual the devil is in the detail, but the big picture is that housing finance – having slowed into the end of 2015 in the face of macroprudential measures – accelerated its way through 2017.

The actual split between owner-occupiers and investors remains somewhat questionable given revisions reported by some lenders.

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About

Pete Wargent is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. He’s achieved financial freedom at the age of 33 - as detailed in his book ‘Get a Financial Grip – A Simple Plan for Financial Freedom’. Pete now manages his investment portfolio, travels and works as a consultant in the finance industry from time to time. Visit his blog


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