Who is Buying Australian Real Estate?

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Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
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For every two first-home buyers intending to live in their new home, there’s another one entering the market for the first time as an investor.

A NAB survey released on Wednesday found that 17 per cent of new homes and 18 per cent of existing homes sold in the final quarter of 2014 went to owner-occupiers buying a first home.

But the figures also showed eight per cent of new homes and nine per cent of existing homes were bought by people purchasing their first home as investors.

The survey is the first of its kind to identify housing market debutants who are buying for investment purposes compared to those who will live in their property.

Housing finance figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics do not separately identify first-time buyers in the investment market – the “first-home buyers” subject to popular discussion with the release of the monthly figures are owner-occupiers.

In October last year, senior RBA officials flagged their intention to clamp down on lending to investors, who now account for half of new housing loans compared with around 40 per cent in the first decade of this century.

In his parliamentary testimony in October, RBA assistant governor Malcolm Edey cited this growing proportion, taken from ABS figures, as evidence that the market had become “unbalanced”.

The NAB figures suggest a risk that first-home buyers taking the investor route into the market may be caught in the crossfire.

The figures from the NAB also show the share of the market commanded by overseas buyers remained significant – one in seven for new properties and one in 12 established homes.

Taken together, the figures suggest about one in 10 homes overall are being bought by foreign investors.

Foreign buyers looking for new properties were less active in all states, except Victoria where they accounted for a new high of 32.5 per cent of sales.

Just over half of foreign purchases were for apartments, 31 per cent for houses and 16 per cent for re-development.

The survey also described sentiment as being weaker in all states and “still deeply negative” in Western Australia.

It found house prices were expected to grow by 1.5 per cent in 2015, with Victoria, Queensland and NSW leading the charge.

NAB expects growth in average capital city house prices to cool to about four per cent in 2015 amid rising unemployment and affordability concerns.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NAB SURVEY

MARKET SHARE: NEW HOMES

  • Existing owner-occupiers 33.8 pct
  • Australian resident investors 25.7 pct
  • First-home owner-occupiers 16.1 pct
  • First-home investors 7.8 pct
  • Overseas buyers 14.8 pct
  • Other: 1.9 pct

MARKET SHARE: ESTABLISHED HOMES

  • Existing owner-occupiers 42.6 pct
  • Australian resident investors 22 pct
  • First-home owner-occupiers 16.1 pct
  • First-home investors 9.3 pct
  • Foreign buyers 8.7 pct
  • Other: 1.6 pct

EXPECTATIONS FOR HOUSE PRICE GROWTH in 2015

  • Victoria: +2.2 pct
  • NSW: +1.5 pct
  • Queensland: +2.1 pct
  • South Australia and Northern Territory: flat
  • Western Australia: -0.2 pct

 

By Garry Shilson-Josling
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