Pete Wargent blogspot

CEO AllenWargent Property Buyers, & WargentAdvisory (institutional). 6 x finance author.

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

RBA changes stance on first homebuyers

Strike or shift?

There's been a long-running debate about the so-called "first homebuyer strike" in Australia.

It never really made any sense, since first homebuyer numbers have remained very solid in states which have grants for first-times such as Western Australia, where 20-25% of loans written continue to be for first-timers.

Yet mysteriously FHBs had apparently disappeared in states such as New South Wales, crowded out by greedy Baby Boomer investors.

I summed up the basic issue incomplete records issue at the beginning of the year here, but note that it was raised many months before that on the chat forums

Further, as noted here as mortgage data broke new record heights, it's important to listen to what the data is actually telling you, which has not been commensurate with an entire sector of the market casually sitting on the sidelines.

There has been a shift, certainly.

First homebuyers are getting older, often buying in couples rather than alone.

Many are choosing to  buy an investment property as their first step, especially in Sydney.

But they are not "on strike", as has been claimed. 

RBA reporting

The Reserve Bank released its chart pack to the end of May last week here, and it seems that the central bank has at long last reached the same conclusion, completely stripping the first homebuyer data out of its chart pack.

Housing Loan Approvals graph

Previously, the split had been shown between owner-occupiers, investors and first-timers, but since the FHB data was both incomplete and non-sensical, a decision has clearly finally been reached to have it pulled. 

Other RBA charts show building approvals to be approaching something of a crossroads, although remaining close to record highs:

Private Residential Building Approvals graph

And dwelling prices remain in an uptrend.

Housing Prices graph

The rest of the chart pack, which you can see here makes for interesting reading as always.

In particular, note the near-exponential rate of growth in bulk commodity export volumes which are now overwhelmingly driving Australia's economic growth. 

Bulk Commodity Exports graph

With a third of Australia's annual exports by value destined for China, it's a highly leveraged play.