New home loans falling in Australia, latest data shows

New home loans in Australia saw a further decline in February from the high levels of late 2015, according to the latest report from the Housing Industry Association.

Despite a growth in the total number of owner occupier loans, excluding refinancing, new home loans fell by 6.5% month on month and were 2.7 per cent lower than a year earlier.

During February the number of loans for the construction of new dwellings eased back by 1.9% in seasonally adjusted terms, while the number of loans for the purchase of new dwellings fell by 15.4%.

Compared with a year earlier, loans for dwelling construction were down by 2.8% and there was a 2.6% decline in the number of new dwelling purchase loans over the same period.

However, HIA senior economist Shane Garrett said that it is important to remember that new home lending volumes are still high by historic standards.

‘The decline in new home loans during January and February is consistent with our view that new home building will moderate during 2016 from last year’s record highs even though the number of new home starts this year is still likely to be one of the highest on record,’ Garrett explained.

‘While the markets that have risen on the recent wave of construction are likely to continue to perform in the near term, there is a risk that markets which didn’t fully participate in the boom may find this more painful,’ he pointed out.

‘It is vital that state governments are prepared to step in and offer support to our industry as required over the next few years,’ he added.

Compared with a year earlier, the number of loans to owner occupiers building and buying new homes in the three months to February 2016, increased most strongly in the Northern Territory with growth of 37.4%, followed by growth of 20.2% in New South Wales and 9.3% in Victoria,

New home lending volumes also rose in South Australia by 4.7%, in Queensland by 3% and in the Australian Capital Territory by 2.5% but over the same period, lending volumes fell in Tasmania by 33.1% and in Western Australia by 20.4%.