The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released housing finance data for the month of August, which registered a seasonally-adjusted 3.9% fall in the number of owner-occupied finance commitments over the month. The result disappointed analyst’s expectations of a 2.5% fall.
The number of owner-occupied housing finance commitments (excluding refinancings) registered a seasonally-adjusted 5.3% fall over the month of August to be tracking 3% above the five-year moving average level. However, the series is up 8.7% on August 2012.
The average loan size was steady over the month, but was down 0.2% over the year. The below charts show the series on a 3-month moving average basis (in order to smooth volatility). Note the recent downward shift after the bounce over the June quarter.
First home buyer (FHB) commitments has slumped once more, recording a 13% non-seasonally adjusted fall in August and represented just 13.7% of total owner-occupied commitments – the lowest level since April 2004. They were also 22% lower than August 2012 (see below charts).
The ABS only provides the value of investor finance commitments. These were flat in August, but were up by 26% over the year and remained at the highest level since June 2007 (see next chart).
Overall, this is looks like a weak release, with owner-occupied mortgage demand falling sharply, led by FHBs, and average loan sizes also starting to trend lower. It remains an investor-led housing bounce.