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APRA changes “unlikely” to invigorate housing market

While APRA’s proposed changes to serviceability assessments for ADIs have been broadly celebrated, others have expressed doubt that the regulatory revisions will stimulate the housing market in as meaningful a way as is hoped.

“While these changes are welcome and will help some borrowers that can’t quite access a mortgage currently to get one, it is unlikely to result in a rebound in the housing market,” said CoreLogic research analyst Cameron Kusher.

Kusher referred to ANZ’s recent investor update to the market to elaborate on his stance.

The update from ANZ attributed reduced borrowing capacity to three factors: changes to HEM accounting for 60%, the servicing rate floor responsible for 30%, and income haircuts causing the remaining 10%.

Kusher pointed out that, according to this data, 70% of the reduction in borrowing capacity is unrelated to the current serviceability assessment model. Even if APRA were to change its current guidelines, it will likely continue to be much more challenging to get a mortgage than in the past.

Roger Ward, director of Champion Mortgage Brokers, agrees that the current 7.25% assessment rate is just one of six lending standards that have contributed to the credit squeeze.

Drawing from his 25 years in the banking and finance industry, Ward outlined the remaining five challenges to lending as:

  • Banks considering borrowers’ capacity to repay for the full 25 to 30 years of a mortgage term, despite most loans now only lasting seven to eight years
  • A one-dimensional and inaccurate approach to identifying spending habits and current costs of living
  • Changes in credit reporting providing data on the last 24 months’ payment history on credit cards, with one late payment sometimes enough to be declined by a bank
  • LVR changes and limitations, especially those impacting investors
  • Tiered interest rates dependant on the size of the original deposit

While allowing lenders to review and set their own minimum interest rate floor will undoubtedly help some borrowers access previously unreachable mortgages, the housing market will require stimulation from elsewhere in order for dwelling values to begin their rise.

According to Kusher, “[APRA’s] proposed changes, in conjunction with the uncertainty of the election now behind, will potentially provide additional positives for the housing market. [They] would potentially slow the declines further and may result in an earlier bottoming of the housing market.

“Despite that prospect, it will remain more difficult to obtain a mortgage than it has done in the past and we would expect that if or when the market bottoms, a rapid re-inflation of dwelling values is unlikely,” he concluded.

Credit: Madison Utley (Australian Broker)

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