The March 2018 housing finance figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the number of housing loans has continued to decline over the last six months.
Real Estate Institute of Australia president, Malcolm Gunning, said a clear trend has emerged.
“Overall the figures for March 2018 show, in trend terms that the number of owner-occupied finance commitments decreased by 0.7 per cent – the sixth consecutive month of decreases,” he said.
“If refinancing is excluded, again in trend terms, the number of owner-occupied finance commitments decreased by 0.9 per cent, also the sixth consecutive month of decreases.
He said this decreasing trend was recorded in all states and territories except Tasmania, where lending increased by 7.2 per cent.
“The largest decrease of 1.3 per cent was in the Northern Territory.”
Mr Gunning said the value of investment housing commitments decreased by 0.9 per cent in March.
“The purchase of dwellings by individuals for rent or resale is at the lowest level since May 2016,” he added.
“The number of established dwellings purchase commitments decreased by 0.7 per cent while the purchase of new dwellings decreased by 0.8 per cent and new dwelling construction fell by 1.2 per cent.
“The proportion of first home buyers, as part of the total owner-occupied housing finance commitments, decreased marginally to 17.4 per cent in March compared to 17.9 per cent in the previous month. The number of loans to first home buyers increased by 5.8 per cent compared to February.”
Mr Gunning said that APRA may have constrained bank lending for too long and created a credit squeeze.
“They did not consider the lag effect in the market of their decision,” he said, adding that the only “bright spot” in the market is first home buyers.