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First home buyers sidelined by investor surge


New home loan commitments nationally reached a record $30 billion in March as investors poured into an already-hot housing market, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

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The rise in investor lending was the highest since 2003, but it appears that the surge is forcing first home buyers to the sidelines.

The ABS showed there had been a 12 per cent decline in first homeowner commitments in Queensland since January.

Lending to investors accounted for more than half of the March rise in housing loan commitments nationally. The value of new loan commitments for investor housing rose 12.7 per cent to $7.8 billion in March 2021 (seasonally adjusted), 54.3 per cent higher than in March 2020.

The ABS said NSW, Victoria and Queensland accounted for most of the rise in investor housing loan commitments but there were rises in all states and territories except the Australian Capital Territory.

The ANZ said the jump in investor lending has pushed annual growth in investor lending up to 54.3 per cent for the year, almost as high as owner-occupier annual growth (55.6 per cent).

“While owner-occupiers led the recent housing lending boom, it is now clear that low interest rates, the rapid labour market recovery and perhaps hopes for an eventual recovery in population growth are bringing investors back,” the ANZ said.

“Investors now make up 25.6 per cent of new lending, a nine-month high. This is occurring despite persistently high rental vacancy rates, particularly in Melbourne. Strong investor lending may eventually pique the attention of regulators, along with recent up-ticks in higher debt-to-income loans and more low-deposit loans.”

It came as the ABS showed people continued to pour into Queensland in the December quarter, putting extra pressure on the housing market.

The ABS said owner-occupier housing loan commitments rose in the largest states but generally fell in the smaller ones. An 8.2 per cent rise in New South Wales accounted for most of the national rise, while Victoria rose 1.6 per cent and Queensland rose 1.1 per cent.

Investor lending in Queensland jumped to 3512 new loan commitments in March, up from 2512 in February.

The ABS also released data showing the surge in interstate migration reached a net 10,000 new arrivals into Queensland. This was the largest net gain since the December 2003 quarter.

About half came to Greater Brisbane where there was a net gain of 4800 people for compared with 3,200 in the previous quarter. It was the largest intake since December 2002.

Renovations are also soaring but the sale of residential land has fallen back.


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