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AFG Mortgage Index figures released today show the country’s lending in a holding pattern with first home buyers the only category of buyer to record an increase for the first quarter of the 2019 financial year.
The volume of mortgages processed by AFG declined 2% on the prior quarter. AFG brokers lodged 27,900 mortgages during Q1 19, totalling $14.2 billion, compared with 28,883 mortgages and $14.5 billion in the final quarter of the 2018 financial year.
AFG CEO David Bailey explained the results: “As the Financial Services Royal Commission continues to rattle the market Australian homebuyers are feeling the pinch as lenders tighten their borrowing criteria. Compared to the same quarter last year, lending volumes are down by just under 5% – a sure sign of a tightening market. The availability of credit has impacted investors most of all, with that category dropping by 1% to 27% of loans processed. Refinancers were steady at 23% and Upgraders were also static at 43%.
New South Wales and Victoria are both down on the prior quarter, 2.5% and 6% respectively. Queensland also recorded a drop across the quarter, down 2%.
Gains were recorded in SA – 2% up on last quarter, NT – up 22% and WA with an increase of 6% for the quarter.
Loan to Value Ratios (LVR) have increased in SA, NSW and WA.
The national average loan size has increased to a record $509,736, led by increases in average loan sizes in NSW, SA and Victoria.
“NSW has recorded an increase in average loan size of 3%, which we suspect is the result of a drop in apartment sales and lenders tightening criteria to investors – which are usually a lower average loan size. Both factors are driving up the average overall loan size in that state.
During the quarter many lenders moved to increase interest rates independent of the RBA, causing many borrowers to rethink their arrangements. “With the recent round of rate rises flowing through, many consumers have been speaking with their brokers to discuss the value of fixing all or part of their loans,” he said.
“Fixed rates have risen to 18.9% of loans by product category, whilst standard variable loans dropped to 64.3%. Basic variable products are also back in favour, increasing to 11.2% of all loans.
The major lenders clawed back some market share during the first quarter of the new financial year to now be sitting at 59.8%. This figure is still well below the high 70’s they had back in 2013, and much lower than they record outside of the third-party channel.
“The major lenders took some share from the non-majors after treading cautiously for the prior two quarters. The non-majors are still sitting at near historical highs with 40.2% market share after peaking at 40.8% last quarter.
“This is further evidence of the value brokers deliver to competition in the Australian lending market. Refinancers (55.5%) and Upgraders (60.5%) are favouring the competitive offers available from the non-major lenders.