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Development slump feared as investor lending hits new lows

Aerial shot houses

Lending to property investors is at its lowest since July 2013, and the building industry fears a slump in new development looms for Australian buyers. 

According to Master Builders Australia chief economist Shane Garrett, investor home loans have plummeted by 18 per cent over the past 12 months to October 2018.

“During September 2018, a total of $9.75 billion worth of loans was provided to Australian housing investors. This was 2.8 per cent lower than the month before,” Mr Garrett said.

He attributed the fall in lending to a range of coalescing factors, namely the extremely slow rise in rental prices and APRA’s stronger restrictions.

Over the year to September 2018, rental prices increased by just 0.6 per cent on average according to ABS data. This is the slowest rise in 25 years.

“Perhaps the biggest game changer has been APRA’s interventions, which have made it more difficult to secure financing,” Mr Garrett said.

“The ongoing royal commission has also made lenders more jittery.”

He once again called for Labor to reconsider their proposed changes to negative gearing and the capital gains to foster investor interest and ensure supply and demand for accommodation is met.

“Master Builders recent modelling showed that more restrictive policies around negative gearing and the CGT discount would result in between 10,000 and 42,000 fewer new dwellings being built across Australia,” Mr Garrett said.

“With investor demand already in retreat, any policy changes at this time would be very detrimental for Australia’s home building sector.”

Malcolm Gunning, president of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, shares Mr Garret’s concerns.

“There is no bright spot in the latest figures with the continued decline in housing finance reflecting the slowing market, APRA restrictions which with hindsight were probably excessive, the fallout from the royal commission into banking and concerns about changes to property taxation and its impact should there be a change in government,” he said.

Mr Gunning too warned of the adverse impact Labor’s proposed policy changes could have on the already declining market.

“Government and regulators should be very mindful of the impact that a lack of confidence in the housing market can have on the economy,” he said.

Development slump feared as investor lending hits new lows
Aerial shot houses
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