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Australian housing finance continues to fall in December, further fall likely on tighter lending conditions

Australia’s housing finance continued to fall in December, with the largest falls seen for owner-occupiers. Finance for first home buyers, which had previously outperformed other segments, fell sharply in December.

Total financing is down 20 percent over the last year, and further falls are likely in the near term. A sustained improvement in housing finance would be an early indicator of a stabilisation in the housing market.

The value of housing finance commitments fell at a faster rate in December. Finance approvals are now 20 percent lower over the year. Further declines are likely as tighter lending standards continue to filter through, ANZ Research reported.

The value of finance for owner-occupiers fell 6.4 percent m/m, leaving it 16.2 percent lower for the year. Investor finance fell 4.6 percent in the month and is 27.8 percent lower year on year.

Within the owner-occupier category, the trend of first home buyer outperformance has ended, as it declined 8 percent m/m. As a share of the value of total housing finance (excluding refinancing), first home buyers were 16 percent, down from 17 percent in November. It appears that tighter lending standards are now affecting this segment.

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