No risk of housing bubble but political bickering not helping buyer confidence: John Symond

Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond has again downplayed concerns about a housing bubble building in Australia but says a majority government is needed to restore buyer confidence.

He also again took aim at the Reserve Bank, saying it has been too slow to cut interest rates and too focused on keeping inflation in check.

Previously, Symond had accused RBA governor Glenn Stevens and the RBA board of being “asleep at the wheel”.

Speaking a Citigroup conference in Sydney this week, Symond said he did not believe there was a “significant risk of a price bubble”.

He said the market would be propped up by lower interest rates and an undersupply of houses.

But he said buyers were still spooked by both global economic uncertainty and by political “bickering and scandals” at home.

Symond said only a federal election and the return of a majority government could restore confidence.

Despite his criticism of the RBA, Symond does not think lower interest rates will restore confidence, an argument supported by the recent editions of the benchmark Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Confidence Index, which has only risen modestly despite a number of rate cuts.

Symond expects the RBA to continue to lower the cash rate, but he steered clear of bashing the banks over their decision not to pass on the full rate cut to borrowers.

He said that bank funding costs had risen and if banks were to pass on full rate cuts they would have to limit their mortgage lending.

Symond said banks needed to make a commercial profit, but they should not gouge customers.

"From what I have seen over the past two years, they haven’t been gouging,” he told the Citigroup conference in a speech reported by the Australian Financial Review.

Aussie built a reputation for taking on the major banks when it began operating in the late 1990s.

However, criticising the banks has become a trickier issue for Symond since the Commonwealth Bank acquired a third of Aussie in 2008.

The Commonwealth Bank also provides wholesale funding for Aussie Home Loan-branded mortgages.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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