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The September 2012 quarter has been the latest in five consecutive quarters to record an improvement in housing affordability, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA).
The latest REIA Housing Affordability Report revealed that the September quarter recorded a minor improvement in housing affordability with the proportion of income required to meet loan repayments decreasing 0.1 percentage point to 31.8 per cent.
During the September quarter of 2012, the Reserve Bank made no change to the official interest rate of 3.5 per cent. The quarterly average variable standard interest rate remained unchanged at 6.6 per cent, while the quarterly average three-year fixed rate decreased by 0.3 percentage points to 5.7 per cent.
The number of new finance commitments to first home buyers increased by six per cent to 26,075 in the September quarter. Over the quarter, the number of loans to first home buyers increased in all states and territories, with the exception of Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Compared to the September quarter of the previous year, new finance commitments to first home buyers increased 14.3 per cent. Across the country, New South Wales was the only state or territory to record a decrease in the number of new finance commitments to first home buyers.
During the quarter, first home buyers made up 19 per cent of the market compared to 17.9 per cent in the June quarter.
Over the September quarter, the average loan size to first home buyers increased 0.8 per cent to $289,800. Increases were recorded in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, the average loan size to first home buyers increased 0.6 per cent.
Across the country, the Northern Territory recorded the largest increase in the average loan size to first home buyers.
Housing affordability refers to the cost of housing that is relative to the disposable income of a renter or buyer.