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Home owners ‘paid the price’ of overdue regulation

Property contract and keys

The latest set of tightened lending restrictions aimed at cooling Australia’s hot property markets is a year late, an Australian economist says.

APRA announced last week it would build on its 2014-2015 macroprudential restrictions as property investment continues to run hot.

AMP chief economist Dr Shane Oliver said those measures were needed a year earlier and their absence last year prompted property prices to surge again.

“APRA did the right thing back in 2014 going into 2015 when they announced the macroprudential regulations to tighten up lending standards and slow lending to investors, and that worked spectacularly well. Auction clearance rates fell to 50 per cent and price gains slowed to a crawl but then it seemed to be forgotten about,” Dr Oliver told Nest Egg.

While those measures introduced in late 2014 were successful, they needed to be followed up in 2016 as property prices began to quickly climb again, Dr Oliver said.

“Going into the second half of last year, we needed another round of announcements and macroprudential controls to make sure that investors continue to remain more cautious but unfortunately through the second half of last year, it was all forgotten about and now it’s hotted up again,” he explained.

“We’re back to where we were again in 2014 with an overheated property market and we have to do it all again to get it to slow down."

With property prices having grown over the last year, APRA’s tightening was quickly followed by an ASIC crackdown on interest-only lending as the regulators redoubled their efforts to quell the market.

Dr Oliver said the recent price run-up demonstrates the need for the regulators to be constantly vigilant.

“The thing with macroprudential controls is you need this continuous flow of warnings from authorities, that it’s not going to pick up like it used to, that it’s expected to be slower,” he said.

“We got that, but it all came to a halt last year and we paid the price for it.”

Home owners ‘paid the price’ of overdue regulation
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