Mortgage Choice Upbeat on Housing in 2016

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Thursday, February 26th, 2015
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Mortgage Choice has notched up a record number of loan approvals and expects to go from strength to strength in 2016 as interest rates continue to fall.

The company said it had achieved $6.9 billion worth of home loan approvals in the six months to December 31, up from $6.2 billion a year earlier, on the back of the booming housing market.

It had also grown its franchise numbers, increased its number of loan writers by 10 per cent and was continuing to invest in its diversified businesses.  Its cash profit was flat at $9 million.

Chief executive Michael Russell said the company was focused on growth and increasing its market share, seeking to take advantage of the healthy housing market.

Property prices, auction clearance rates and housing finance commitments remained strong, interest rates were continuing to fall and more people were using mortgage brokers, he said.

“The blood supply for a healthy mortgage industry are all looking very positive at the moment,” Mr Russell said.

“We’ll be sitting here in six months’ time with another very strong result to report.”

Mr Russell said the company had already seen a boost from February’s cash rate cut, which had stimulated refinancing enquiries.

And while the majority of economists think rates will continue falling to new record lows, he acknowledged there would be a point when the stimulatory impact of low rates would diminish.

“There will be a point where rates are so low that we’ll get to a point where it’s not going to stimulate any buying demand (but) it’ll probably continue to stimulate refinancing demand,” he said.

“We’d have to be getting close to that point now.”

Mr Russell said regulatory intervention to constrain lending to property investors was a “contingent” headwind for the business and he hoped it would go no further than jawboning.

He said regulators weren’t considering the fact that the sharp rise in investor numbers was being driven by first-home buyers, using investment properties to get a foot on the housing ladder.

Cooling investor lending was unnecessary, he said, given house price growth was already slowing.

“We really liken the sudden interest in investment lending growth by the RBA and APRA to almost like the situation where they’ve got their sirens roaring and they’re racing to a fire that actually burnt itself out 12 to 18 months ago,” he said.

“You’ve really got to question why at this point in time, with GDP sub-three per cent, with unemployment on the rise, with housing prices cooling, why is there a need for regulator interference to slow down investment lending? We think it’s actually unfounded.”

 

HOUSING BOOM LIFTS MORTGAGE CHOICE

  • Net profit of $9.97m, down 9.4pct from $11m
  • Revenue of $97m, up 8.5pct from $89m in 2013/14
  • Interim dividend unchanged at 7.5 cents per security

 

By Belinda Merhab

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