The ABS released the housing finance data today. The trend estimate for the total value of dwelling finance commitments excluding alterations and additions was unchanged. Owner occupied housing commitments rose 0.1% while investment housing commitments fell 0.3%. The proportion of first time buyers rose to 18%, but the absolute number of loans was significantly lower.
The proportion of investment loans fell again but still sit above 35%.
There were small rises in refinancing and investment loans for entities other than individuals. The number of commitments for owner occupied housing finance fell 0.7% in January 2018. In trend terms, the number of commitments for the purchase of new dwellings fell 1.4%, the number of commitments for the purchase of established dwellings fell 0.7% and the number of commitments for the construction of dwellings was flat.
In original terms, the number of first home buyer commitments as a percentage of total owner occupied housing finance commitments rose to 18.0% in January 2018 from 17.9% in December 2017. The absolute number of first time buyers fell, thanks mainly to falls of 22.3% in NSW and of 13.3% in VIC.
The ABS warns that the number of first home buyer commitments as a percentage of total owner occupied housing finance commitments recorded strong growth from July 2017 to November 2017. The increase has been driven mainly by changes to first home buyer incentive programs in New South Wales and Victoria. The ABS is working with APRA and the financial institutions to establish the size of the increase in first home buyer lending and improve the quality of first home buyer statistics more broadly. These numbers may be revised and users should take care when interpreting ABS first home buyer statistics.