Happy New Year! We hope that you and your family enjoyed a very relaxing holiday break and managed to get into the great outdoors to enjoy this lovely summer weather.

Are you ready for another fantastic year in our property markets? 2015 was a fast and furious year that favoured property owners and sellers in almost every capital city. However, many analysts are predicting that our property markets will improve for buyers this year, with conditions starting to look much more favourable for first home buyers and owner occupiers.

This is largely due to a reduction in property investment activity in response to the tightening of controls on investment lending by the Australian Prudential and Regulatory Authority (APRA) in June last year. Activity from foreign property investors also slowed in the last quarter of 2015.

Both of these factors have contributed to reduced competition for properties. This has caused a slow-down in rapid rises in home values around the country, but particularly in Melbourne and Sydney where markets were running hot all year.

Sydney home values increased by 11.47% during 2015, but they were down by 2.37% for the final quarter. Melbourne values were up by almost 11% for the year, but fell by 1.70% for the final quarter.

Other capital cities saw more modest movements in home values for the year. Brisbane/Gold Coast saw a 4.57% rise in home values and Canberra saw home values increase by 4.09% for the year. In Perth, home values decreased in 2015 by 3.73% and Darwin also saw home values fall by 3.63%. Hobart also showed a marginal decrease in home values for the year of 0.72% and Adelaide showed an overall decrease of 0.13%.

During December, there was still a great deal of activity going on in most states. Auction numbers were surprisingly high for that time of year, however clearance rates were much lower and many more properties sold prior to auction than was usual for the year.

With many people only just returning from holidays, we can expect property market activity to be continue to be quiet for the remainder of January. However, with interest rates remaining at historical lows, and further rate cuts looking likely in 2016, we can expect general property market activity to be busy again this year, with large auction numbers already on the horizon for February and March.

Whether you’re a first home buyer, looking to refinance or are planning to invest in property this year, we’re here to help you formulate your plans and access the right financing for your needs. We look forward to assisting you to achieve your goals in 2016, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call to get started today.

Spring is here and we’re all looking forward to the busiest time of year in property markets around the country! If you’re planning on getting in on the action, we’re ready to find you a great deal on your financing – so whether you’re looking at refinancing your existing mortgage, buying a new home or planning to invest give us a call!

There has been a lot happening in our financial markets this month, with volatility in our share markets and interest rates on the move even though the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0 per cent during its September meeting.

APRA’s increased supervision on investment lending has caused a general rate adjustment for both owner-occupier home loans and property investment loans. While some lenders are raising the interest rates on their property investment loans by 20 – 50 basis points in line with APRA’s restrictions, they are simultaneously reducing their interest rates on owner-occupier loans by a similar margin.

This is great news if you’re a first home-buyer looking to get into the market this spring. It’s also great news if you’ve been considering refinancing an existing loan – you can now access some of the lowest rates on record and you could potentially save a lot of money on repayments. If you’re looking to invest, or refinance a property investment, we have identified lenders who are offering some great rates, so please give us a call.
Melbourne and Sydney property markets have remained hot throughout winter, whilst most other markets succumbed to the usual winter slow period. Things are now starting to pick up again with auction numbers starting to increase for the week ending August 30.

In Victoria there were 1185 scheduled auctions with a 78% clearance rate, while in NSW there were 1083 scheduled auctions with a 78% clearance rate. These auction figures really outstrip activity in other states. (However it should be noted that in areas outside our two major capital cities, many vendors prefer private sale over auctions).

In Queensland there was 159 auctions with a 58% clearance rate, South Australia offered 100 auctions with a 65% clearance rate, Western Australia 34 auctions with a 67% clearance rate, and Canberra had 47 auctions with a 68% clearance rate. Tasmania scheduled only 8 auctions and recorded a clearance rate of 75% and Northern Territory held just six auctions with no results.

Since last month, changes in home values have been marginal around the country. Sydney showed an increase in home values of 1.14% over last month and 17.55% over this time last year. Melbourne showed a marginal decrease over last month of 0.03% but was still up by 10.59% over this time last year. Brisbane and Gold Coast was up by 0.34% this month and 4.29% over this time last year.

Adelaide was up by 0.67% this month and 1.79% since last year, Perth is showing declines – 1.26% since last month and 1.79% over this time last year. Darwin was up marginally by 0.34% this month but is down by 4.57% over this time last year. Canberra seems to be trending downwards with a 1.69% decrease in home values this month and a decrease of 0.86% year on year. Hobart showed a fall in home prices of 1.13% this month, but was up 1.5% over this time last year.

If you’re excited about the property opportunities coming up this spring, and you should be, then we’d love to chat about your plans. We’re here to help you organise the most beneficial financing arrangements for your property purchasing needs according to your personal financial situation and goals. So please don’t hesitate to give us a call today.

Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au/auction-results
Home values: www.corelogic.com.au/research/monthly-indices.html

Sincerely, Element Finance

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of chatter in the media about APRA tightening controls on lending for investment property purchases. And as property investment is one of Australia’s most popular ways to build wealth for the future, it has understandably raised a lot of questions from our clients about how this will change the game for those currently looking to invest. But what is APRA actually doing and why? How will it affect your capacity to get an investment property loan if you’re looking to buy this spring?

What is APRA? 
First of all, we should explain APRA and the role it plays in the finance industry. APRA is the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority and it acts as Australia’s finance industry watchdog. Their role is to regulate the behaviour of lenders, banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance companies, private health insurance agencies and the superannuation industry. Their mission is to establish and enforce standards and practices to ensure that our financial industry remains stable, efficient and competitive.

APRA is concerned that the property market is becoming overheated, particularly in Sydney. This follows home price growth of over 18% in the Sydney market over the past year. APRA is concerned that an overheated market may be subject to rapid price adjustments and this could not only destabilize our entire financial industry, but prove to be extremely risky for the average residential property owner or investor.

What restrictions has APRA imposed?
APRA is primarily concerned about the rate at which the big four banks have been issuing property investment loans. In order to cut it back, they have done two things:

  • Increased the capital reserves the big banks are required to hold for their exposure to residential property mortgages; and
  • Enforced their requirement that the bank’s investment lending does not grow by more than 10% annually.

The result is that the big four banks have raised interest rates on property investment loans. They have also tightened their lending criteria, so that property investors may now require a larger deposit and must be in a financial position to meet their repayments in the event of significant interest rate rises in future. They are also discouraging interest only property investment loans as these are considered more risky in a property market that may be subject to rapid declines in home values.

How will this affect you if you’re looking to invest now?
First of all, let’s look at interest rates on property investment loans. While it’s true that some banks have raised interest rates on property investment loans, these rate rises only represent a 20 – 50 basis point rise, meaning that the increased interest rate on property investment loans is only a half a percent or so higher on average than most owner-occupier loans. When you take into consideration that interest rates were down to all-time historical lows anyway, this will not prove to be much of a deterrent to those of you looking to invest in property this spring.

Additionally, not all of the lenders are at risk of exceeding APRA’s requirement that investment lending does not grow by more than 10% annually. This means that many of the smaller lenders have not raised their interest rates on property investment loans very much – in fact, some of them have not raised their rates at all.

This is where it really pays to have a good mortgage broker on your team. If you are planning to purchase an investment property this spring then talk to us and we will shop around to find you the most advantageous rate!

What about the tighter lending criteria – how will this affect you?
If you are about to purchase an investment property, then the bank’s tightening of lending criteria may have some effect. It is likely that the amount you can borrow has recently been reduced by 10-15% for the same level of income. Additionally, the big four banks will most likely require a 20% deposit, whereas in the past they would have accepted 10%. (Some smaller lenders are still approving investment property loans with a 10% deposit, so if necessary ask us to shop around.)

The result is that your purchasing power may be reduced and if you want to invest this spring, you may have to look at purchasing a less expensive property. For most property investors, this will prove to be only a minor stumbling block – after all a 15% reduction in your buying power isn’t very much. You may have to work a little bit harder to find a suitable investment, but at the end of the day you will most likely be able to find something that suits your budget.

Good advice is now more valuable than ever
The fact is, it’s more important than ever to be able to get good advice about your loan structuring and a mortgage broker who is able to shop around amongst a wider variety of lenders to get you the best rate the market has to offer.

We’re happy to say that’s our job! Since the APRA restrictions have come into play, we have been able to help several clients find great financing options for their investment property purchases and lower rates for those looking to refinance. We’re confident that we can help you too. If you’re in the market to purchase a property this spring, then give us a call. We’re here to help.

Some of you may have heard that APRA has cracked down on investment lending, influencing many lending institutions to review their investment lending policies.

But we imagine for the majority of you, it’s a case of “APRA, who?”.

In short, APRA are making some changes to investment loans, and we thought you would like to know if and how these changes impact you. In this article, we take a look at APRA and what they’re doing to keep borrowing conditions stable for you as an investor.

What is APRA?
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is the prudential regulator of the Australian financial services industry. Their role is to regulate the behaviour of lenders, banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance companies, private health insurance agencies, and the superannuation industry.

APRA plays a critical role in protecting you, and the financial well-being of the Australian community, by upholding standards of trade in the financial industry. Their mission is to establish and enforce standards and practices designed to ensure that under all reasonable circumstances, financial promises made by institutions are met and that our financial industry remains stable, efficient and competitive. As a consumer, APRA’s activities ensure that you have a reliable, fair financial industry and you can go about your day to day transactions and investments with confidence.

What are APRA’s new measures regarding property investment lending?
In December 2014, APRA wrote to all deposit-taking institutions (such as banks and other lenders) setting out sound lending standards, particularly for investment lending, that included a benchmark for the 10% maximum growth of residential investment mortgages. This occurred because of concerns over the number of people entering the property investment market and the stability of lending for this market considering current economic conditions.

Their particular focus is on restricting high loan-to-value and high loan-to-income lending, which may be risky for consumers if there should be a rapid or sudden decline in housing values or the property market in general. They also perceive the rapid growth in property investment lending as risky insofar as Australian consumers may be ‘placing all their eggs in one basket’ and they would prefer to encourage investment diversity amongst consumers.

By taking these measures, APRA is looking to make property market conditions safer for you as a consumer. By slowing down investment lending, APRA is also looking to slow down the rapid growth in property prices, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney where property prices are considered to be overheated by many property market analysts.

What does this mean for property investment borrowing?
Many lenders and financial institutions are changing their criteria for property investment lending in order to meet APRA’s requirements. Most major banks have announced that they will be cutting the discounts available on investment loans, which means that interest rates on new investment loans could be slightly higher than interest rates on owner-occupied home loans.

Additionally, most lenders have tightened up their criteria for investment borrowing. Many are focusing on loan-to-value ratios, meaning you may require a larger deposit than previously and may find it more difficult to leverage properties or access equity to invest further if you are already an investor.

Can I still get a property investment loan?
As your professional mortgage broker, your financial well-being has always been our number one concern. One of our primary responsibilities has always been to assess your personal financial situation and goals, and ensure that any loan we offer to you suits you, your financial goals, and your expenses.

Before applying for a loan for you, we always take into consideration whether or not you would be able to service your loan in the event that interest rates should rise and recommend insurance products such as mortgage protection insurance and income protection insurance to mitigate the risk of you not being able to meet your loan repayments if faced with a hardship situation.

Plenty of lenders are still offering property investment loans to borrowers who qualify under their new property investment lending criteria. It is likely that you will still be eligible for a loan and if you are looking to use property investment as a means to build wealth for your future, you should talk to us about your plans and investment goals sooner rather than later.

We’re here to help you work out if property investment is right for you. We have access to a wide variety of lenders and we’ll shop around amongst them to find you the most favourable loan considering your personal financial circumstances and investment goals. Call us today.

For more information on APRA, please visit their website, or speak to us.


Copyright 2016