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All eyes on housing numbers as key indicators to be revealed

News

The next couple of days will see a suite of economic indicators to provide an update on the state of Australia’s booming housing market in terms of prices, lending and building.

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There are rising worries about the impact of record low interest rates on lending as borrowers chase ever-increasing house prices.

The International Monetary Fund in its latest report on Australia warned that this is leading to concerns about affordability and financial stability.

It recommends tightening lending standards and reforms to boost housing supply, as well as targeted support for low-income households to improve housing affordability.

Australia’s financial regulators have been monitoring the impact of low interest rates on house prices and mortgage demand for some time.

New home loans where debt is at least six times greater than income rose to a record 22 per cent in the June quarter – up from 16 per cent a year earlier.

The regulators are now looking at new measures, with a report released on Wednesday stating they were “mindful that a period of credit growth materially outpacing growth in household income would add to the medium-term risks facing the economy, notwithstanding that lending standards remain sound”.

“Against this background, the council discussed possible macroprudential policy responses,” the Council of Financial Regulators said in their quarterly statement.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority plans to soon publish an information paper on its framework for implementing macroprudential policy.

Reserve Bank assistant governor Michele Bullock told a conference last week “sustained strong growth in credit in excess of income growth may result in vulnerabilities building in bank and household balance sheets”.

The bosses at the Commonwealth Bank and the ANZ told a federal parliamentary committee they are already cautionary in their lending criteria.

The RBA will release its monthly credit data for August on Thursday, which measures the accumulation debt in various sectors of the economy.

In July, housing credit was growing at its fastest annual pace since since May 2018.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will also release building approvals for August.

Economists’ forecasts centre on a further five per cent decline in the month after a hefty 8.6 per cent drop in July as the benefit from the federal government’s successful HomeBuilder program continues to unwind.

On Friday, the CoreLogic home value index for September will be released, alongside lending figures from the ABS.

The ABS will also release job vacancy figures for the three months to August on Thursday.

Job advertising has been weak in recent months as a result of coronavirus lockdowns in major states, which has already translated into a sharp decline in the number of people in employment.

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