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Moody's: Home loan arrears rising in all Australian states

Moody's Investors Service says that the proportion of Australian residential mortgages that were more than 30 days in arrears (30+ delinquency rate) rose to 1.52% in November 2016 from 1.20% in November 2015.

Moody's points out that higher delinquencies raise the risk of mortgage defaults and are therefore credit negative for Australian residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).

"We expect mortgage delinquencies to continue to increase over 2017," says Alena Chen, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst .

"Weaker conditions in states reliant on the mining industry, high underemployment, and less favorable housing and income dynamics will drive delinquencies higher," adds Chen.

Moody's analysis is contained in its just-released report titled "RMBS - Australia: Mortgage Delinquency Map: Home Loan Arrears Rising in All Australian States," and is authored by Chen.

Moody's report says that mortgage delinquencies increased in all eight Australian states and territories over the year to November 2016, hitting record highs in Western Australia (WA), South Australia and the Northern Territory.

A significant portion of the increase in delinquencies can be attributed to the inclusion of loans under hardship arrangements in the calculation of delinquency rates, but delinquencies increased irrespective of this development.

Delinquencies were highest in WA and lowest in New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The WA economy is heavily reliant on the resources sector and growth has slowed since the end of the mining boom.

By contrast, the ACT had the lowest 30+ delinquency rate, and mortgage performance in NSW was also relatively strong, despite an increase in delinquencies over the year to November 2016. Over the four years to November 2016, delinquencies in NSW have fallen notably, a decline that has coincided with the run-up in home prices in Sydney.

Moody's says that in each state and territory, delinquency rates were lower in capital cities when compared with other regions, reflecting the higher levels of economic diversity and employment stability in city areas.

Regions in WA and Queensland with exposure to the resource and mining sectors dominated the list of areas with the highest delinquencies. And, suburbs in Sydney — where housing market and economic conditions were the most supportive for mortgage borrowers — topped the list of best-performing areas.

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