First home buyers have moved into the space cleared by owner-occupiers and investors, increasing their share of the lending market to its highest levels since 2012.
First home buyers now account for nearly 30 per cent of owner-occupier lending, committing to 8,411 loans in March — the highest in three months.
ABS lending data for March showed continued declines in owner-occupier and investor lending, declining 15 per cent and 25.9 per cent respectively over the year.
First home buyers are now the “one area” of recent relative strength, Corelogic economist Cameron Kusher says.
“This isn’t really a surprise given how much overall demand has waned,” Kusher said.
“Stamp duty concession in New South Wales and Victoria as well as improving affordability as prices trend lower has also supported a rise in activity.”
News of the $500 million scheme aimed at first time buyers is expected to first home buyer market share, with the government offering a loan guarantee for buyers struggling to make the 20 per cent deposit.
The government will underwrite any shortfall of up to 15 per cent of a home’s value. The scheme will be capped at 10,000 annually. Bill Shorten has said Labor will also support the scheme, which will now be available from next year for buyers who earn up to $125,000 — or 200,000 for couples.
Housing Industry Association chief economist Tim Reardon said that intervention is necessary to encourage housing investment.
“Overall housing finance commitments for the construction and purchase of new homes are now 19.4 per cent lower than they were in July 2017,” Reardon said.
“Governments have introduced a range of measures over the past three years which have all impacted activity in the housing market. [They] should be reversing the punitive measures and replacing them with more prudent measures, such as assisting first home buyers to save a deposit.”
Falling prices and better deposit affordability will support first home buyers in the market, ANZ economists Adelaide Timbrell and David Plank said.
“Sentiment also supports the view some green shoot for housing are appearing,” Timbrell and Plank said.
“Recent consumer sentiment surveys suggest a growing number of households believe it is a good time to buy a home. This likely reflects the improvement in affordability brought about by price declines.”