Housing is cooling

There's not much indication from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) latest update on property financing.

While the number of total dwelling finance commitments continued to decline - down 0.5% in March after a 0.8% fall in February - their value increased by 0.9% in March, more than reversing the previous month's 0.7% drop with lending increasing for both owner-occupied housing (0.9%)and for investment housing (0.8%) over the month.

Year-on-year, the number of total dwelling finance commitments declined by 1.9% in March following the previous month's 2.2% drop. Values gained by 0.3% in the year to March after a 2.3% decrease in February.

The lead from the statistician's building approvals report - total building approvals down 19.9% in the year to March - suggests further weakness in housing finance in the coming months.

More so, when the latest round of the Australian Prudential Regulations Authority's (APRA) macro-prudential restrictions start flowing through into the property market and previous moves by banks lifting mortgage rates.

These, along with additional restrictions on the property market announced in the 9 May Budget, point to further slowing in the property market going forward.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison announced measures against investment properties that include levies on vacant investment properties and limitations on depreciation and expenses that could be claimed against rental properties.

Included in the Budget is a $6.2 billion bank levy that the big four banks - ANZ, CBA, NAB, WBC - say they would pass onto their depositors, which certainly could come in the form of higher interest rates for borrowers.

Read more: ANZAustralian Bureau of StatisticsAustralian Prudential Regulations AuthorityFederal Treasurer Scott MorrisonMay BudgetNABWES
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