First home buyer loans fell to five-year low in January

3 March 2023

The number of new owner-occupier first home buyer loan commitments fell to its lowest level since February 2017, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Mish Tan, ABS head of finance and wealth statistics, said, “The number of new owner-occupier first home buyer loan commitments fell 8.1 per cent in January 2023.

“Owner-occupier first home buyer lending continued to decline from the high reached in January 2021. The decline coincided with the winding down of COVID-19 pandemic stimulus measures.

“Anecdotal feedback from lenders suggested that reduced borrowing capacity due to rising interest rates further dampened overall demand for new housing loans in recent months.”

The overall value of new loan commitments for housing fell 5.3 per cent to $22.1 billion in January 2023. The value of total new owner-occupier loan commitments fell 4.9 per cent to $14.7 billion, while new investor loan commitments fell 6.0 per cent to $7.4 billion.

The value of owner-occupier housing loan refinancing between lenders fell 1.9 per cent but remained close to record highs at $12.7 billion. Borrowers continued to switch lenders for lower interest rates as the RBA’s cash rate target rose.

The value of total new loan commitments for fixed term personal finance rose 0.5 per cent.

Lending for the purchase of road vehicles fell 0.4 per cent, while lending for the purchase of household goods rose 6.2 per cent to another record high. Meanwhile lending for travel and holidays rose 0.9 per cent to the highest level seen since late 2018.