The latest housing finance figures show home buyers remain active, with the notable exception of first time purchasers who have fallen to a fresh record low proportion of mortgage approvals.
Overall, Bureau of Statistics figures show the number of home loan applications for owner-occupation was up 1.1 per cent in November to a four-year high, and is 15 per cent higher than the level seen at the same point in 2012.
However, first time buyers made up a record low 12.3 per cent of owner-occupied home loan commitments, down from 12.6 per cent in October.
The Commonwealth Bank’s economics team says first home buyers typically average around 20 per cent of the owner-occupied loan market each month.
When investors are added into the mix, UBS estimates that first home buyers made up just 7.6 per cent of total loans.
The value of home loan commitments in November rose even faster than the number, up 1.7 per cent as home prices kept growing apace.
Excluding refinancing, the value of home loan commitments in November was up 1.5 per cent, including a 1.5 per cent rise in loans to investors, indicating continuing strength in the segment that has led the most recent home price surge.
The value of loans issued to investors in November was 34 per cent higher than it was a year earlier, and Westpac says it is up 21 per cent since mid-2013.
Commonwealth Bank economist Michael Workman says investors have been reacting more strongly than owner-occupiers to the current record low interest rates.
“The more attractive rental returns prevailing over the past few years and low variable and fixed mortgage rates have brought the investors back to residential property,” he observed in a note on the data.
On a more positive note for policymakers, the number of loans for the construction of dwellings was up 2.3 per cent in a sign that real estate demand is feeding through into more residential construction.
However, the number of loans issued for the purchase of newly built dwellings was down 4.3 per cent.