Home loan approvals took a surprising drop in November, suggesting a welcome slow down in the housing market and a cooling of investor activity.
Approvals fell 0.7 per cent in the month, according to official figures, disappointing economists' expectations of a 1.7 per cent rise.
"The overall theme is that the housing market is slowing down a little bit from some very high levels," JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said.
"It's still going in the right direction but things are cooling."
That will please the Reserve Bank, following recent concerns about the potential for investor-fuelled housing bubbles in the Sydney and Melbourne property markets. Investor loan approvals remained high but their value fell for the first time since May, down 2.2 per cent in November.
"These monthly numbers are pretty choppy but even so, the dip we have seen in November might help to cool any perceptions, at least for now, of overheating in the housing market," National Australia Bank senior economist David de Garis said.
The dip may be temporary, he said, given the pickup in home prices in December.
There were 52,079 approvals in November, compared to 52,439 approvals in October, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.