Increasing investor interest-only borrowing likely causing APRA discomfort: Kusher

Increasing investor interest-only borrowing likely causing APRA discomfort: Kusher
Increasing investor interest-only borrowing likely causing APRA discomfort: Kusher

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released data earlier on residential property exposures by Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs). The data was published up to the end of December 2014. The information provides additional insight into the nature of mortgage lending by Australian banks, building societies and credit unions.

Chart 1

According to APRA’s data, at the end of 2014, there were $1.278 trillion in residential term loans with $839.8 billion in owner occupied loans (65.7%) and $438.9 billion in investor loans (34.3%). Over the 12 months to December 2014, the value of residential term loans to owner occupiers increased by 7.4% compared to a 12.2% rise in loans to investors. Note that in December, APRA raised concerns about annual growth in investor loan books above 10%. Based on this data, many ADIs would be growing that segment of their book above that benchmark.

Chart 2

Focusing on the characteristics of these loans shows a growing appetite for loans with an offset facility and interest-only loans. Meanwhile, the prominence of low documentation loans and other non-standard loans is reducing. 

Based on the value of lending, loans with an offset facility increased by 18.4% year-on-year to December 2014, interest-only loans were 15.1% higher, reverse mortgages had increased 1.9% while low documentation loans and other non-standard loans had reduced by -18.6% and -20.2% respectively. 

At the end of 2014, a record high 37.5% of outstanding loans had an offset facility and a record high 36.9% were interest-only. Just 0.2% of loans were reverse mortgages, a record low 2.5% were low documentation and just 0.1% were other non-standard loans.

Chart 3

At the end of December 2014, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimated that there were 9,448,300 households, while APRA reported that there were 5,213,000 mortgages to Australian ADIs. This indicates that 55.2% of Australia’s housing stock was mortgaged to Australian ADIs. The 55.2% figure is the highest on record, noting that records have only been calculated from the September quarter of 2011. 

The ABS also reports the value of residential housing stock at $5.4 trillion and given the $1.258 trillion in outstanding mortgages to Australian ADIs, 23.3% of the value of all housing stock is mortgaged.

Chart 4

The average value of the outstanding mortgages, according to APRA’s data, was $241,400 at the end of 2014, with the average loan size having increased by 3.4% over the past year.  Loans with offset facilities ($285,900) and interest-only mortgages ($311,300) had much higher average loan sizes which have increased by 2.1% and 2.8% over the past year. 

Reverse mortgages had an average size of $93,100, having increased by 3.8% over the year. Low documentation loans had an average outstanding amount of $204,800 and other non-standard loans had an average of $211,900, outstanding loan sizes have fallen over the year -2.9% and -7.1% respectively.

Chart 5

Over the December 2014 quarter, there were 93,231 new loans written by Australian ADIs. 

Of these loans, 23,183 (24.9%) had a loan-to-value ratio (LVR) of less than 60%, 38,964 (41.8%) had an LVR of between 60% and 80%, 20,464 (21.9%) had an LVR of 80% to 90% and the remaining 10,620 (11.4%) had an LVR of more than 90%. 

Year-on-year, the number of loans with an LVR of more than 90% have fallen by 6.9%.  Over the same period, loans with an LVR of less than 60% have increased by 10.8%, loans with an LVR of 60% to 80% have increased by 13.1% and loans with an LVR between 80% and 90% have increased by 17.7%.

Given APRA had concerns of the rate of growth in the investment segment of the market, this latest data is likely cause APRA some discomfort.

Not only is this data showing the investment segment growing at a rate much higher than 10% annually, but also interest-only lending which tends to be reflective of investment lending is also increasing substantially. 

On a more positive note, although investment lending is increasing it is encouraging to see the drop in higher LVR lending above 90%, which suggests that ADIs are being somewhat more cautious around higher risk lending especially considering the overall number of loans being written has continued to grow.

We can expect the regulator will be monitoring lending standards with more focus after the release of this data, particularly from the perspective of investment lending and interest only mortages.

Cameron Kusher

Cameron Kusher

Cameron Kusher is senior research analyst at CoreLogic RP Data.

Data Investment


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