New housing loan commitments weakened in February

2 April 2022

New housing loan commitments fell 3.7 per cent to $32.3 billion in February 2022 (seasonally adjusted), following a record high in the previous month, according to data released today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS head of Finance and Wealth, Katherine Keenan, said: “February’s fall in new housing loan commitments was driven by a 4.7 per cent fall in the value of new owner-occupier loan commitments, the first since October 2021.

“The value of new owner-occupier loan commitments was 1.0 per cent lower than February 2021, but owner-occupier lending was 55 per cent higher than February 2020.”

Falls in the value of owner-occupier loan commitments were seen across most states and territories. The largest falls were in New South Wales (down 10.5 per cent), Victoria (down 5.2 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (down 23.6 per cent).

The number of new loan commitments to owner-occupier first home buyers fell 8.3 per cent in February 2022. This was 36.7 per cent lower compared to a year ago, and continued the decline seen since the recent peak in first home buyer lending in January 2021.

Falls in the number of owner-occupier first home buyer commitments were seen across all states and territories. Similar to overall owner-occupier lending, the largest falls were in New South Wales (down 15.5 per cent), Victoria (down 5.9 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (down 31.9 per cent).

“While remaining close to the record high seen in January, investor lending also fell in February. The value of investor loan commitments fell 1.8 per cent to $10.8 billion. This was the first fall in investor lending since October 2020,” Ms Keenan said.

The fall in investor loan commitments was driven mostly by New South Wales (down 5.5 per cent), Queensland (down 2.6 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (down 11.9 per cent). Victoria was flat while Western Australia rose 6.8 per cent and Tasmania rose 2.8 per cent.

Total variable-rate housing loans funded to residents (including refinancing) rose 12.2 per cent to $33.5 billion, while fixed-rate housing loans funded fell 17.0 per cent to $13.1 billion (all original terms). As fixed interest rates increased in recent months, the proportion of fixed-rate loans to all loans funded in the month fell from a peak of 46 per cent in July 2021 to 28 per cent in February 2022.

The value of new loan commitments for fixed term personal finance rose 6.5 per cent (seasonally adjusted) in February 2022, driven by a 10.8 per cent rise in lending for the purchase of road vehicles.