Australia’s largest mortgage broker aggregator group AFG processed more mortgages last month than for any February on record – a total of $3.7 billion.
However, first home buyers fell to less than 10% of all property buyers for the first time since June 2010, according to the Perth-based aggregator.
The company’s mortgage index put overall mortgage volumes at the highest for any February on record and represented a 27% increase on mortgages processed for February last year.
However the index also showed first home buyers made up of less than 10% of all mortgages processed for the first time since June 2010.
The national average figure of 9.9% was triggered by a sharp decline in the number of first home buyers in Western Australia, which for years led the nation in this sector, AFG said.
The proportion of home loans arranged for first time borrowers in Western Australia fell to 19.5% last month from 24.2% in January.
Month-on-month falls in the proportion of first home buyers were also recorded for South Australia (from 15.5% to 13.1%) and Victoria (11.2% to 10.3%).
Queensland bucked the trend, rising from 6.5% to 6.9%, while New South Wales remained the lowest in the country at 3.4%.
AFG sales and operations general manager Mark Hewitt
said the overall national figure for first home buyers has been concealing the reality that first home buying in NSW and QLD has been at very low levels since state government grants were withdrawn.
“Now that the WA figure has come off its very high levels, the issues faced by first home buyers are becoming more apparent.”
AFG disagrees with recent media commentary indicating Australian Bureau of Statistics first home buyer numbers are understated, Hewitt said.
“First home buyers are included in our data irrespective of whether they qualify for a grant or not and we clearly see a concerning downward trend.
“AFG’s mortgage index reflects fierce competition in the mortgage market, with non-major lenders seizing back market share lost to the majors in January.”
He said non-major lenders made particular inroads among investors – who tend to be the stickiest clients – with their market share in this sector increasing from 19.8% to 24.2% in February.