First home buyers are flooding back into the property market lured by ultra-low interest rates and government support, with two of the nation’s biggest mortgage brokers experiencing a surge in loan applications from young buyers.
AFG, a major listed wholesale broker, reported a 30 per cent annual jump in its total home loan applications in the latest quarter, as other brokers including Mortgage Choice also said they had seen sharp growth during the summer.
But while the lending surge is underway, analysts are predicting a modest rise in foreclosures as banks stop offering automatic home loan deferrals for customers thrown into financial stress by the pandemic.
AFG chief executive David Bailey said the company’s latest figures showed 22 per cent of loan applications lodged by its brokers in the latest quarter were for first home buyers, compared with the historical average of about 12 to 13 per cent of loans going to first time buyers. Mr Bailey said government incentives for first home buyers and rising prices were helping to fuel the strong demand.
“As we are starting to see clearance rates improve and prices rise across the country, people are starting to worry that they might miss out. They are probably bringing their decisions forward … to take advantage of the incentives,” Mr Bailey said in an interview on Wednesday.
Investors made up only 21 per cent of AFG’s loan applications, the lowest percentage on records going back to 2013.
Australia’s property market proved to be surprisingly resilient to shock from the pandemic, with prices rising in late 2020 after official interest rates were slashed to just 0.25 per cent and banks allowed struggling property owners to put their repayments on pause.
Mortgage Choice chief executive Susan Mitchell said over the past two months the market had been “very buoyant,” with loan applications up by 25 to 30 per cent compared with a year earlier. Ms Mitchell also noted the surge in first home buyer activity, saying these buyers accounted for almost 25 per cent of applications, up from 13 to 15 per cent normally.
“We are seeing the first home buyers back at the same level that we saw back in 2009,” she said.
Mortgage broker Homeloanexperts.com.au said inquiries since December were more than 60 per cent higher than the same period last year, also citing strong interest from first home buyers and expats returning to Australia.
Alongside government support for first home buyers, banks have also cushioned the housing market by allowing customers to pause repayments temporarily, but most borrowers will have to make their usual payments from March, when several government stimulus programs also end.
The end of all these stimulus measures and supports simultaneously could result in a small lift in foreclosures, property data analysts SQM Research managing director Louis Christopher said, but he was not concerned about a “mass forced sale event”.
“The banks have done well in managing the loan deferrals. They have shrunk from their peaks at the beginning of the pandemic,” Mr Christopher said.
Starr Partners chief executive Doug Driscoll was “perplexed and bewildered” about the strength of the property market during the pandemic.
“The leniency and the patience of the banks is stopping there from being any tsunami of forced sales. There will naturally be a slight increase in foreclosures [at the end of the repayment holidays] but not a severe spike,” Mr Driscoll said. “Everything last year was pointing to foreclosures and price falls but it’s just business as usual.”
Article Source: www.brisbanetimes.com.au