Record household refinancing as interest rates bite

Refinancing levels hit $13.4 billion in November, setting a new Australian Bureau of Statistics record for owner-occupier mortgage holders switching lenders in an attempt to deal with rapidly rising interest rates.

Jan 13, 2023, updated Jan 13, 2023

Monthly owner-occupier refinancing has remained above $12 billion since June 2022, well above pre-pandemic levels.

Acting ABS head of finance and wealth Dane Mead said rising interest rates were prompting borrowers to switch lenders.

Many borrowers are also coming off their fixed rate loans secured when interest rates were low, which is likely contributing to the uptick in refinancing.

New home loans fell 3.7 per cent for the month, continuing their fall from record high levels in the first half of 2022 .

Mead said the number of owner-occupiers taking out new home loan commitments fell below pre-pandemic levels for the first time in November.

Investors are also borrowing less, with new investor housing loan commitments falling 3.6 per cent over the month.

Higher interest rates are limiting the amount buyers can borrow, with Canstar analysis showing borrowing power has fallen by almost a quarter since April.

First home buyers have started disappearing from the market, with lending by this group halving from the January 2021 peak.

“After years of being constrained by the burden of putting together an adequate deposit in the face of rising house prices, first home buyers are now finding that the affordability of repayments is limiting their borrowing capacity,” Canstar group executive Steve Mickenbecker said.

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Mickenbecker said the Reserve Bank’s cash rate increases were having the desired effect of stalling new lending and cooling the property market.

“Slower lending is yet to flow through to lower inflation and the 7.3 per cent inflation rate for the year to November will have disappointed the Reserve Bank, making a further 0.25 percent increase in the cash rate likely in February,” he said.

Personal lending also fell 1.3 per cent, led by a 9.3 per cent fall in personal investment lending and a 2.9 per cent slowdown in new car loans.

The rate of lending for household goods rose 5.1 per cent to hit a new all-time high, and lending to fund travel and holidays remained a touch above pre-pandemic levels.

-with AAP

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