A major global ratings agency says the level of mortgage arrears in Australia has not fallen, despite record low interest rates.
A half-yearly study by Fitch Ratings of more than $200 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities shows 1.25 per cent of home loan customers were more than 30 days behind in repayments.
That level is down from almost 1.5 per cent in March.
But James Zanesi from Fitch says it is slightly higher than the level in September last year, despite significant interest rate reductions to the current 2.5 per cent.
“We actually see that delinquencies have remained the same despite a 90-basis-point improvement in standard variable rates,” he said.
“I would say that perhaps it has to do a lot with other factors, such as unemployment and the local economy in a particular region.”
Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast has the highest level of mortgage arrears in the country, with 4 per cent of borrowers at least 90 days behind on their mortgage repayments as of September 30.
Mr Zanesi says the high rate of arrears is aggravated by the long period of time it is taking banks to sell foreclosed properties.
“When we look at postcode level, Surfers Paradise was actually the worst performing postcode in Australia,” he said.
“The arrears in the Gold Coast are affected by the stagnation in the local housing market.”
Mr Zanesi says the level of arrears also tended to be higher in many regional centres.
“Regional areas, such as non-metropolitan areas in New South Wales and Queensland and Western Australia, have shown an increase in delinquency rates,” he said.
“Probably in Western Australia it might be due to the mining sector and volatility in such industry, but it’s pretty hard to find out why the same reason applies to say NSW.”