Refinancing home loans new flavour of day

03_Refinancing home loans new flavour of day

Lucy Hughes Jones
(Australian Associated Press)

Home owners are shopping around for mortgages and the big banks are chasing their business as investor appetite for property wanes.

As the household borrowing landscape steers away from investor-led growth, lenders are targeting owner-occupied re-financers to maintain market share and offset the ongoing repayment pitfalls of lower rates, research shows.

And, there’s plenty of mileage in this strategy yet, according to the JP Morgan Australian Mortgage Industry Report.

“We’re seeing the growth baton shift to the re-financing cycle,” JP Morgan banking analyst Scott Manning said on Wednesday.

Mr Manning expects relatively strong credit growth to continue for the next 12 to 18 months, driven by re-finance mortgages as investor lending eases further.

It’s largely a reflection of tighter lending standards introduced for investors and November’s out-of-cycle home loan rate rises by lenders in response to increased capital requirements.

The number of borrowers intending to take out a mortgage or switch an existing one has continuously increased from early 2015, jumping from 10 per cent to around 35 per cent now, the report shows.

This indicates that re-financers are looking to establish better terms on their mortgage or to release equity for other investments as house prices have risen.

But the research, a collaboration between JP Morgan and Digital Finance Analytics (DFA), also found that there’s still a strong undercurrent of demand from investors.

“Property remains near the top of many investors’ priorities, as the alternatives, such as shares or bank deposits, become less attractive,” DFA principal Martin North said.

He said much investor activity was based around leverage from tax incentives like negative gearing and a reduced rate on capital gains tax.

“(So) concerns about budget changes are registering a little more strongly,” he said.

Mr Manning said regulators also were considering imposing higher capital requirements on banks that lend to certain investors.

Investor loans where repayment is `materially dependent’ on rental income may see risk weights three times higher than current standards, he said.

The banking watchdog has indicated it will have discussions with the industry about possible changes in 2017.


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