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Investors rush to beat potential tax changes

Investor rush to beat deadline.

It was interesting – if a little alarming – to hear Shadow Treasurer Bowen this week noting that there was “no evidence” that investors are rushing in to the market in order to beat proposed changes to tax legislation relating to property.race

It’s unclear if the ALP just doesn’t ‘do’ liaison with the real estate industry or whether this was a natural response to downplay a mildly accusatory question.

A huge number of investors I speak to are unsurprisingly concerned about prospective changes to tax legislation, and as such many are aiming to buy as much property as soon as they can.

This can be a problem with flagging future shifts in tax legislation well in advance, as we have also seen in Victoria over the past fortnight.

Regardless of the political debate, it’s on, and regulators may need to step in again later in the year.

Housing finance surges on

The ABS reported the January housing finance figures on Friday morning which showed the value of investor lending tearing 28 per cent higher year-on-year.

So there’s the evidence, lest anyone really needed it.

Another surge in investor lending took total housing finance to comfortably its highest ever level both in seasonally adjusted and trend terms in the month January 2017.

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Wealth Retreat 2017 - Pete Wargent

One point that should be acknowledged is that these are January figures, and some steps have since been taken by lenders to cool the investment lending sector.

On this evidence, it’s likely that more tweaks will be needed.

On a national basis, the monthly figures for the homebuyer market were relatively flat.

Loan sizes can sometimes be lower in January, yet even in seasonally adjusted terms the value of owner-occupied housing commitments was down a notch in the month (-0.2 per cent), despite an uptick in the number of loans.

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Homebuyers around the traps

The national figures for owner-occupier commitments are being pulled down by Western Australia, where the number of commitments has been in a long downtrend from November 2013 (7,729) all the way through to January 2017 (5,803).

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It’s a similar story for the value of owner-occupier commitments in WA, which have dropped from $2.42 billion in 2014 to $1.94 billion.

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Finally, the average first homebuyer loan size was generally also a little lower over the Christmas period.

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I’ll take a look on Wednesday next week at where the investors are buying, but I can save you the suspense because the answer is Sydney and Melbourne.

The wrap

Housing finance continues to scale new monthly peaks, and the figures for investment lending will do little to quell the belief that APRA will be tapping on the shoulders of a few more lenders as this year progresses.

That said, today’s figures were for January and the most widely reported figures are seasonally adjusted, so there will be lots of attention directed at the next two months of data.



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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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