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Latest ABS data shows national housing finance figures continue to decline

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the national finance figures for January this week, which showed lending for housing continues to decline across the country. Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) President Malcolm Gunning said ABS data showed that the number of owner-occupied finance commitments decreased by 0.7 per cent. “This is not only the fourth consecutive month of decreases but also the largest of the four decreases. “If refinancing is excluded, in trend terms, the number of owner-occupied finance commitments decreased by 1.2 per cent – the fifth consecutive month of decreases and again the largest of the five,” Mr Gunning said. ABS data shows decreases were recorded in all states and territories except Queensland, where lending increased by one per cent. “The largest decrease of 1.6 per cent was in Western Australia while the ACT was flat,” Mr Gunning said. “The number of established dwelling purchase commitments decreased by 0.7 per cent while the purchase of new dwellings decreased by 1.4 per cent new dwelling construction remained flat.”

Investment housing and first home buyers

ABS data for January shows the value of investment housing commitments decreased by 0.3 per cent in January, which follows falls in the previous 12 months. Mr Gunning said the proportion of first home buyers, as part of the total owner-occupied housing finance commitments, increased marginally to 18 per cent in January, compared to 17.9 per cent in December 2017. “The number of loans to first home buyers, however, fell by 14 per cent compared to December 2017. “The continued decline in housing finance explains why banks are competing for market share by reducing interest rates including those for first home buyers and investors,” Mr Gunning said.

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