New home lending slump a 'timely' warning: Economist

by AB15 Oct 2013

The latest housing finance data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABA) shows new home lending slipped back in August.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the total value of dwelling finance commitments - excluding alterations and additions - fell 1.2% from July, 2013.

Housing Industry Association (HIA) senior economist, Shane Garrett, says the slight decline on July’s result should serve as a ‘timely warning’ against complacency towards Australia’s housing market.

"Compared with twelve months ago, new home lending activity has increased markedly. However, growth has completely stalled over the past six months even though activity was already rather low by historical standards," says Garrett.

"The patchiness we are continuing to see in areas of the home loans market means that another interest rate cut from the RBA before the end of 2013 is important in order to ensure that the market recovery fires on all cylinders. Current policy settings have proven to be insufficient to drive a sustained recovery in new home lending and a renewed focus on housing policy reforms is needed to copper fasten the recovery.”

In the three months to August, the number of loans to owner occupiers for the construction and purchase of new homes was 13.3% higher than the same period in 2012. The number of loans for the purchase of new homes was 0.6% higher in the three months to August.

In August 2013, the seasonally adjusted number of housing finance commitments (for both new and established owner-occupied housing) increased in NSW (+2.3%), Victoria (+2.2%) and Tasmania (+0.1%). Lending declined by 3.2% in Queensland, 8.6% in South Australia and 1.3% in Western Australia over the same period.