10/11/2010 - 11:19

WA housing finance bucks national trend

10/11/2010 - 11:19

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Home loan approvals in Western Australia bucked the national trend in September increasing 5.5 per cent compared to the national figure of 1.3 per cent.

WA housing finance bucks national trend

Home loan approvals in Western Australia bucked the national trend in September increasing 5.5 per cent compared to the national figure of 1.3 per cent.

Housing Industry Association director WA John Dastlik said that the quarterly result was unexceptional, with marginal growth of 0.5 per cent over the September 2010 quarter.

"The proportion of first home buyer loans of total continued to decline- falling from 16.8 per cent in August to 16.7 per cent in September," said Mr Dastlik.

The national figure still left the number of loans down 25 per cent from the previous September and down 21 per cent compared with the average of 2009.

The value of all housing loans, including alterations and additions and loans to investors, rose 1.7 per cent in the month but was down by 14 per cent over the year.

Taking into account the rise in the average size of home-buyer loans, and assuming finance per dwelling has risen by roughly the same margin for investors as well, it seems likely that the number of dwellings financed by the current rate of lending is about as low as it has been for nine years.

Similarly, lending for new and to-be-built housing by the same reckoning is about 10 per cent below the average for the past 25 years, consistent with building approvals data showing a below-par demand for new dwellings.

These figures relate to a period a month before the Reserve Bank of Australia raised the cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point on November 2, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), amid great publicity, lifted its variable mortgage rate by nearly double that.

Borrowers are nervously waiting to see whether the others of the big four - the ANZ, NAB and Westpac - will follow CBA's lead.

They may choose to rise their rates by something closer to the RBA's official move, leaving CBA to act as a lightning rod for public hostility.

In either case, the rate hike will keep a lid on demand for housing.

Not that this will make the RBA pull back from raising rates again if it sees fit.

The whole idea of rate hikes is to suppress spending.

When some sectors are hot - as mining is at the moment - then others have to be relatively cold in order to keep the average volume of spending in the economy at the level desired by the RBA.

And it has been housing's unfortunate role over the years to act as a kind of economic ballast, to be jettisoned when necessary to keep the economy on an even keel.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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