Nick Hart bought four homes in Adelaide in less than two years, and was getting ready to make an offer for a fifth, when a regulator-inspired move to cool the sizzling Australian property market spoiled his plans.
“I went to my bank for my next home loan and their response was eligibility assessments have changed, and they can’t lend more to me just yet,” said the 37-year-old sales manager at a software services firm. Hart said the bank told him his existing loans, equivalent to 93 percent of the value of his A$1.8 million ($1.3 million) properties, need to be reduced before he can borrow any more.
Last month, Australian banks raised interest rates for property investors and introduced tougher loan-to-value standards in response to a move by regulators to rein in the riskier corners of the country’s house price boom. With interest rates stuck at record lows due to the slowdown in the wider economy, the central bank and the Australian banking regulator have been grappling with ways to prevent a property price bubble.
There are signs that the market may be cooling. Inquiries from property investors dropped by a quarter last month, said Paul Bevan, a Melbourne-based mortgage broker. Price gains in Sydney, the city which has seen the fastest increases, are expected to ease to about a third of the annual pace of 18 percent seen in the year to July 31, according to a Bloomberg survey of six market analysts.
“All ingredients are in place now to spook the Sydney house-price momentum,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney. “It is better to cool the market rather than wait for the bubble to burst.”
Low mortgage rates and a flood of Chinese investment have propelled prices 29 percent higher across Australia in the past three years, according to research firm CoreLogic Inc. Prices in Sydney have jumped 46 percent over the same period.
Last year, the Reserve Bank of Australia called the housing market unbalanced, and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority urged banks to limit the growth in investor home loans, which make up a record 53 percent of all mortgages, according to latest government figures.
The turning point came last month, when the banking regulator increased the capital that the banks need to hold against potential mortgage losses to an average of 25 percent, from 17 percent previously. That will force the four largest lenders to add A$12 billion in equity in a year, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs Inc. and Morgan Stanley.
In response, banks introduced a number of steps to curb borrowing for investment. They reduced the maximum loan amount they will lend relative to the value of a home, increased the interest rate used to assess borrowers’ ability to repay, and reduced the sources of income they would accept in investor borrowing applications.
Last month, the three biggest lenders — Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp. — increased home-loan rates for landlords by as much as much 30 basis points. For the first time since 1997, investors pay more than owner-occupiers on mortgages from those banks.
ANZ and National Australia Bank Ltd., the fourth-largest lender by market value, have capped the loan-to-value ratio at 90 percent, down from as much as 95 percent.
Investors are “still keen” to enter the property market but they would find it difficult to meet the new loan-to-value rules, said Martin North, principal at Sydney-based Digital Finance Analytics, citing a rolling survey of 26,000 households across the country on financial and property expectations.
“While I expect things to slow down through this year and into the next, a price collapse is unlikely when rates are still low,” North said.
Property investor Hart says homes are still his safest bet though he acknowledges he wouldn’t be able to expand his portfolio as fast as he had expected.
“By next year, I’m sure the value of my properties will rise further and I’d be able to pay down some of my mortgage,” he said. “Once that’s done, I can go to my bank for the next one.”
Queensland’s population hits 5 million people today
Queensland’s population has tipped the 5 million mark today, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has told State Parliament.
Ms Palaszczuk said several expectant families were on standby to welcome the state’s five-millionth resident.
“Somewhere today a brand new mum and dad will be eager to meet their new arrival,” she told the house.
“The whole family will want to know: is it a boy or is it a girl? And the doctor will say, ‘congratulations, it’s a Queenslander’.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the two main drivers of the increase were migration growth, particularly from New South Wales, and from 60,000 babies being born in the past year.
PHOTO: The state’s five-millionth resident was born today.(ABC North Queensland: Nathalie Fernbach)
“Overseas and interstate migration is up by 50,000 people in the past year, 19,000 came from interstate … more than 12,000, or 230 a week, move from New South Wales to Queensland,” she said.
ABS data also revealed the fastest and largest-growing area in Queensland in 2016-17 was Pimpama on the Gold Coast, which grew by 3,000 people.
Large growth also occurred in Jimboomba on Brisbane’s south side and in North Lakes — a suburb north of the city — which both increased by 2,100 people.
Coomera on the Gold Coast and Springfield Lakes in Ipswich also experienced large growth up 1,400 people.
The State Government’s population counter gives a “synthetic estimate” of the number of current Queenslanders, assuming a total population increase of one person every 6 minutes and 22 seconds.
Earlier this year the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said Queensland’s population was growing at 1.7 per cent and was projected to tick over to 5 million in May.
ABS data released in March also revealed Brisbane was one of the country’s fastest-growing cities and had increased by 48,000 in 2017, hitting 2.4 million people.
ABS demography director Anthony Grubb said the state’s population had “come a long way” in the last century.
“In 1901 the population was half a million; a tenth of what it is today… it took 37 years to hit the 1 million milestone in 1938 and another 36 years to reach 2 million in 1974,” he said.
But Mr Grubb said population growth “picked up the pace” after that, taking just 18 years to reach 3 million then only another 14 years to hit 4 million in 2006.
Queensland could be leading growth state in future
Population demographer Dr Elin Charles-Edwards said although Queensland is not currently the fastest growing state, it is possible it could top the leader board later down the track.
‘Not in the short-term, but Queensland is coming up off a relatively subdued growth so perhaps we might be entering an era of more rapid growth,” she said.
Dr Charles-Edwards said the challenges that generally come with increased population could be managed in Queensland.
“As long as we keep up and don’t take our eye off the ball we can continue to absorb quite high levels of growth… but really it’s keeping up with the infrastructure that’s the key challenge,” she said.
Dr Charles-Edwards said it was important to note some parts of the state, particularly in western Queensland, were experiencing population decline.
“While the south-east corner is growing and also many Indigenous communities are growing, other parts of the state are shrinking,” she said.
“Perhaps we could do more to encourage people to move outside the south-east corner.
“If we were able to work out some way to decentralise our population, growth a little bit further up into the northern regional centres, I think that would benefit the growth of south-east Queensland.”
APRA to end cap on property investor loan growth
APRA is removing the 10 per cent ‘speed limit’ on investor loan growth.
Photo: Louise Kennerley
The banking regulator is axing a 10 per cent speed limit on bank lending to property investors, saying the cap has served its purpose and improved credit standards.
With Sydney house prices falling and credit growth slowing, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority on Thursday said it would remove the cap for bank boards that could prove they had been following its guidelines on prudent lending.
In late 2014, amid a surge in borrowing by property investors and rapid house price growth, APRA took the rare step of setting a 10 per cent limit on the annual growth in banks’ housing investor loan portfolios.
The measure has rocked the mortgage market in recent years, prompting banks to jack up interest rates for housing investors, and demand borrowers stump up bigger deposits.
But on Thursday, APRA chairman Wayne Byres said it was prepared to remove the measure because there had been an improvement in lending standards and a slowdown in credit growth.
“The temporary benchmark on investor loan growth has served its purpose. Lending growth has moderated, standards have been lifted and oversight has improved,” Mr Byres
Even so, the regulator will retain a separate 2017 policy that requires banks to limit their new interest-only lending to less than 30 per cent of all new home loan approvals.
APRA also said there was “more to do” in improving other aspects of banks’ lending, including how they assessed borrowers’ expenses, their existing debts, and the approval of loans that fell outside of banks’ formal lending policies.
APRA said it expected banks to introduce limits on the proportion of new lending that could be done at “very high” debt-to-income levels.
“In the current environment, APRA supervisors will continue to closely monitor any changes in lending standards,” Mr Byres said.
“The benchmark on interest-only lending will also continue to apply. APRA will consider the need for further changes to its approach as conditions evolve, in consultation with the other members of the Council of Financial Regulators.”
Brisbane’s population picks up, but more people moving to Pimpama
Brisbane’s population hit 2.4 million in June 2017, according to ABS figures.Source:Supplied
BRISBANE is back among Australia’s fastest-growing cities thanks to a growth spurt, but more people are flocking to areas outside the state’s capital.
New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the city’s population grew by 48,000 in the year to June 2017 to hit 2.4 million — the fastest rate of growth in four years.
Births accounted for 37 per cent of the growth, while interstate migration accounted for 25 per cent.
The fastest and largest-growing area in Queensland is Pimpama on the Gold Coast, which grew by 3000 people or 31 per cent in 2016-17.
An aerial shot of Pimpama on the northern end of the Gold Coast. Picture: skyepicsaerialphotography.Source:Supplied
Other areas to experience significant population growth include Jimboomba on the southern outskirts of Brisbane, North Lakes-Mango Hill in the Moreton Bay region, Coomera on the Gold Coast and Springfield Lakes in Ipswich.
ABS demography director Anthony Grubb said the latest population estimates were the first to include data on the components driving population growth in capital cities and regions.
“It is now possible to not only see how much population is changing in an area, but to understand why this change is occurring”, he said.
Michael Matusik, director of independent property advisory Matusik Property Insights, believes Queensland’s improving population growth should impact house prices, but it hadn’t so far because the state’s economy also needed to improve.
Mr Matusik told The Courier-Mail Pimpama’s population was growing at a rate he didn’t believe was sustainable.
“It’s a reflection of where land supply is on the Gold Coast at the moment and I think that will calm down,” he said.
“But if the Gold Coast is going to continue expanding, those areas will become more like North Lakes in due course.”
Sydney’s population grew by just over 100,000 people in one year for the first time, taking that city’s total numbers to 5.1 million.
Australia’s big east coast cities carried most of the growth — Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane accounted for over 70 per cent of Australia’s population increase.
Darwin, Adelaide and Perth grew at 1 per cent or less.
TOP FIVE POPULATION GROWTH AREAS IN QLD
Suburb Population change 2016-17 Population as at June 30, 2017
1. Pimpama, Gold Coast 30.8% 12,586
2. Jimboomba 7.9% 28,639
3. North Lakes-Mango Hill 6.7% 33,225
4. Coomera 10.3% 15,227
5. Springfield Lakes 8.7% 17,468