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APRA data shows that investment lending is starting to slow

Cameron Kusher    |    International


Earlier this week the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released its September quarter data on property exposures by Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs). The quarterly data provides some very valuable insight into the domestic mortgage lending market. With this data comes a further sign that the recent lending changes from APRA are coming into effect and reducing investor related lending activity.

According to the data, the value of outstanding residential term loans (mortgages) to households was recorded at $1.355 billion at September 2015.  This figure is comprised of $840.6 million in owner occupier loans and $514.2 million in investor loans.  Investor loans accounted for 38.0 percent of all outstanding mortgages, down from 39.0 percent at the end of the June 2015 quarter.  This provides the first evidence since September 2013 that a slowdown in lending to the investor cohort is underway.  Despite the slowing of investor mortgage demand, the total value of outstanding mortgages has increased by 9.1 percent over the year compared to an 8.9 percent increase in owner occupier mortgages.

The next data set looks at mortgages by the value outstanding across those which have: offset facilities, interest-only mortgages, are reverse mortgages, are low-documentation mortgages and are other non-standard loans.  Based on the data, 41.4 percent of loans have offset facilities, 39.4 percent are interest-only, 0.2 percent are reverse mortgages, 2.1 percent are low-documentation and 0.1 percent are other non-standard loans.  The 41.4 percent with and offset facility is a record high while the proportion of reverse, low-documentation and other non-standard loans is at a record low.  Interest only loans remain high on an historic basis however, they have eased slightly over the quarter and lenders look to reduce the number of borrowers who aren’t paying down their principal.  Over the past year, the value of lending with offset facilities has risen 23.5 percent, interest-only mortgages are 19.1 percent higher and reverse mortgages are 1.1 percent higher.  Meanwhile, the value of low-documentation loans is -14.8 percent lower and other non-standard loans are -14.1 percent lower.

The average outstanding balance on a mortgage was $246,400 at the end of September 2015 with this figure having increased by 2.5 percent over the year.  Loans with an offset facility have an average outstanding balance of $300,100 having increased by 5.3 percent over the year which is the fastest annual increase since June 2011.  The value outstanding for interest-only mortgages has increased by 5.6 percent over the past year to $325,700, with the 5.6 percent annual increase being the largest on record.  Reverse mortgages ($95,000), low-documentation mortgages ($193,200) and other non-standard mortgages ($193,700) each have much lower outstanding balances with the value outstanding falling over the year for low-documentation (-6.3 percent) and other non-standard loans (-9.8 percent).  The regulator (APRA), the RBA and ASIC have all previously raised concerns about the magnitude of interest-only lending and the potential risks associated with it.  There would possibly be some concern that the typical amount outstanding to these mortgages is historically high and rising at its fastest pace on record.

Additional published data focuses on new lending over the quarter of which there was a record high $94.975 million.  Of this new lending, 34.7 percent ($32.930 million) was to investors with the remaining 65.3 percent ($62.045 million) to owner occupiers.  This represents a substantial fall in lending to investors over the quarter with the value down -19.9 percent.  Meanwhile, total lending still only recorded a moderate fall of -1.4 percent over the quarter due to a 12.4 percent rise in lending to owner occupiers which has mostly offset the fall in investment lending. The fall in lending to investors is in line with the declines seen in monthly housing finance data and reflects higher interest rates and tighter lending criteria for investors from June of this year.  There is also some muddying of the waters, with lenders reclassifying mortgage types which has resulted in some adjustments in the APRA data.

There has also been a noticeable fall in lending for interest-only mortgages over the past quarter.  While interest-only lending made up a substantial 41.1 percent of lending over the September 2015 quarter, it has fallen from 45.9 percent of all lending in the June 2015 quarter.  The value of interest-only lending has fallen by -11.5 percent over the quarter but is still 8.4 percent higher over the year.  It is also getting significantly harder for low-documentation borrowers looking to borrow through traditional channels.  Low-documentation loans accounted for just 0.4 percent of new lending over the September quarter with the value of lending down -8.7 percent over the quarter and -33.5 percent for the year.  As low documentation ADI’s find it harder to obtain finance through these traditional finance channels, we suspect that there are a growing number obtaining finance through less mainstream or non-bank channels, many of which aren’t encapsulated in this data.

The quarterly data also highlights new lending across different loan to value ratio (LVR) bands.  Based on the value of new lending, 22.4 percent of new mortgages had an LVR of less than 60 percent in the September 2015 quarter, 54.1 percent had an LVR of between 60 percent and 80 percent, 14.1 percent had an LVR of between 80 percent and 90 percent and 9.4 percent had an LVR of 90 percent or more.  Over the quarter, the value of new lending only rose across those mortgages with an LVR of less than 60 percent (+2.6 percent) with falls across the 60 percent to 80 percent (-0.2 percent), 80 percent to 90 percent (-2.8 percent) and 90 percent or greater (-13.9 percent) cohorts,  In fact LVR lending above 80 percent, which is typically the type of lending where lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) is applicable, was recorded at a record low 23.5 percent over the quarter.

The data shows that while investor lending, interest-only lending and high LVR lending remains prevalent, it has become harder to obtain these types of mortgages over the past quarter.  This is due to many changes in lending policies having been made by most ADIs and it should assist in ensuring stability within the mortgage lending market.  Low-documentation and non-standard lending is minimal and falling which once again is encouraging however, it is unclear how much of this lending is occurring outside of the traditional mortgage lending space.  It seems as if the tighter lending requirements are having a positive impact with borrowers using larger deposits and being more conservative with how much they borrow.

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