PROPERTY

First home buyer loans hit decade high as new buyers flock to market

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First home buyer loans have skyrocketed to their highest level in a decade, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

December saw total volumes jump by more than 6%, in seasonally adjusted terms, to a record 9606, the highest in a single month since December 2009.

Economists say the spike can be partly attributed to the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.

first home buyer loans hit 10 year high

"The new First Home Loan Deposit Scheme is already a big success and the official data will show more big gains for first home buyers once they are released," says Master Builders chief economist Shane Garrett.

"Apart from first home buyers, today's figures show that other areas of the housing market are also recovering well. Housing investor loans expanded for the third consecutive month and hit a 14-month high during December."

A total of 5700 Aussies have signed up to the scheme so far, with all available spots available with the Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank already snapped up.

The December result has also been attributed to house price growth and low interest rates.

"House price growth and lower interest rates are supporting market confidence leading to an increase in lending to owner occupiers for the purchase of a new home which increased by 4.9% in the December quarter," says HIA economist Angela Lillicrap.

But it's not all smooth sailing for first home buyers.

"We remain concerned that changes to the lending regime for first home buyers mean that access to finance will be an impediment to this segment of the market when owner-occupiers and investors return to the market.

And while rates are low, credit remains tight.

"Structural changes to the regulation of banks means that it is increasingly difficult for first home buyers to gain access to finance. There is a risk that this will have an adverse impact on homeownership rates," says Lillicrap.

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.
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