Aspiring homeowners could be in for long wait

Louis Christopher, SQM managing director, says banks look at several issues when lending to Mackay buyers.
Louis Christopher, SQM managing director, says banks look at several issues when lending to Mackay buyers.

IF you're dreaming of a new home but struggling to raise a deposit, a property expert says you might have to wait a while before things get easier.

The housing market in Mackay has picked up in the past year but the REIQ last week said local buyers still faced tough lending conditions.

Managing director of investment research house SQM, Louis Christopher, said investment lending restrictions were in place in many areas nationwide.

For investment lending, a 20% deposit was pretty standard right now, Mr Christopher said.

But if those deposits were being demanded of owner-occupiers in Mackay, that kind of down payment was more restrictive than average.

He said vacancy rates had fallen, and listings for sale in Mackay had dropped to 1324 but that was still nearly three times the number available "at the peak of the boom” in 2012.

Mr Christopher said banks would analyse how many defaults happened in an area like Mackay and ask how volatile and how diverse local economies were.

"They look at mortgage stress indicators, as well they take into account unemployment.”

"They would then say: Alright, we need to take into account the additional risk.”

He said whether home buyers get loans more easily would largely depend on steps the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority took.

The regulator earlier this year said interest-only mortgages should account for no more than 30 per cent of new home loans, or the "loan book”.

But Mr Christopher said if market conditions allowed, APRA might change its tune late next year, or more likely the year after, so buyers might get loans more easily in 2019.

APRA chairman Wayne Byres said measures to cool the national property market were working, and rebuked bankers "for eroding lending standards over the past decade,” The Australian reported on Tuesday.

But Mr Christopher said the APRA boss also indicated these restrictions weren't going to be permanent.

UQ Business School senior lecturer Dr Shams Pathan said bank lending was always a debated topic, especially around real estate lending.

"They are supposed to lend and contribute to economic growth,” but lending had to be sensible, Dr Pathan said.

"Given that Mackay is growing, banks should support this tangible growth by extending loans to all those genuinely capable of repaying the loan,” the finance expert added.

Last week, REIQ Mackay zone chair Peter McFarlane said big banks were slow to respond to a regional resurgence, so some buyers still faced restrictive conditions.

NAB last week said it considered multiple factors when assessing loan applications.

"We take into account local economic and market conditions for the security against which the customer wishes to borrow,” a bank spokesperson said.

"This is the responsible and right thing to do for our customers, for our business, and for the Australian property market.” -NewsRegional

Topics:  apra dr shams pathan home ownership loans louis christopher mackay mortgages peter mcfarlane property real estate reiq

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