First homebuyers active and good time for renters

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Lending to first homebuyers surged in December while the increase in rents reached a 24-year low during 2017. Picture: Anita McInnes

THE first homebuyer share of owner occupier home loans in WA late last year was the highest in the nation, according to the Housing Industry Association.

Meanwhile, during 2017, rents increased by just 0.6 per cent – the slowest pace of growth in any year since 1993.

On Friday, February 9 Housing Industry Association chief economist Tim Reardon said during December 2017, the first homebuyer share of owner occupier home loans in WA was 24.5 per cent, followed by the Northern Territory (24.1 per cent), the ACT (20.6 per cent), Queensland (20.3 per cent), Victoria (19.1 per cent) and New South Wales (14.3 per cent).

South Australia had the lowest first homebuyer share (13.1 per cent) narrowly behind Tasmania (13.6 per cent).

Mr Reardon said the percentage of first homebuyer market share lending in the final quarter of 2017 had reached the highest level since the December quarter of 2009.

He said the results were contained in Australian Bureau of Statistics figures on housing finance for December 2017 released on Friday.

“First homebuyer participation in the housing market surged higher in 2017 to 18 per cent of owner occupier housing loans.

A total of 104,000 housing loans were made to first homebuyers during 2017 compared with 88,800 in 2016.

“With the interest rate outlook looking much more favourable for 2018, the window of opportunity for first time buyers is now wider.’’

After the Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday, February 6 left its official cash

rate unchanged his colleague senior economist Shane Garrett said the continuing low interest rate environment was also helping renters.

“Following (Tuesday’s’) meeting, the RBA board left its official cash rate at 1.5 per cent where is has stood since August 2016,’’ he said.

“Last week’s inflation figures from the ABS showed that the pace of rental growth reached a 24-year low during 2017.

“This is partly due to the large volume of newly-built dwellings that have arrived on the rental market during recent years.

“Mortgage interest costs also have a big impact on rents.

“The fact that interest rates have been so low and so stable over the past two years has taken the pressure off rents.’’

Mr Garrett said last year rents only increased by 0.6 per cent.

“Owner occupiers have reaped the rewards of declining interest rates during the past six years.

“Last week’s figures show that those relying on the rental market for their housing needs are also benefiting.’’