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Property investors are leaving the market

Yet more evidence that Australia’s property market is headed for a fall – lending to property investors fell 6.1% in October, with owner-occupied approvals rising 0.4%, according to today’s data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

The total value of housing finance was also down 2% for the month of October, compared to September, but the falloff in investor lending is very noticeable as this chart demonstrates.

investor lending

Source: ABS

Macquarie’s head of Australian economics James McIntyre has told Fairfax Media that the value of loans approved to investors is now the weakest since June 2014. Mr McIntyre says investor participation has dropped close to 15%, since peaking in April.

That’s all thanks to the banking regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Reserve Bank of Australia. APRA warned the big four banks Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) about allowing investor lending to rise more than 10% each month, as it threatened to get out of control.

The banks responded with higher deposit requirements and raised interest rates on investor property loans above that of owner-occupiers. Clearly, investors have been discouraged from the property market – and it’s working.

The only problem is that the withdrawal of many investors from the market is pushing house prices and auction clearance rates down. Home sellers will have to adjust to the new reality, which is lower prices than they may have expected.

Foolish takeaway

You could reasonably expect property prices to fall moderately from here – like they did in 2011 and 2008/09 when Sydney’s median house prices fell 14.5% and 13.9% respectively. Low-interest rates could act as a base to prevent property prices from crashing – subject to no external shocks.

 

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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