RBA warns on "over exuberance" in home buying

The RBA suggested that Australian banks' lending standards remained prudent

RBA warns on
RBA warns on "over exuberance" in home buying

The Reserve Bank has warned there was a risk that low interest rates could lead to "over-exuberence" with asset prices, including in the housing market.

The RBA suggested Australian banks' lending standards remained prudent and that households, businesses and banks were well-placed to deal with any weakening economic conditions.

But the central bank warned of a risk that assets could be pushed beyond their fundamental value.

"A sustained period of rising asset prices may lead to over-exuberance ... with increased risk-taking and leverage in an environment of accommodative financial conditions," it noted in its biannual financial stability review, released on Friday

“A correction in asset prices, if borrowers’ income were to fall and so they defaulted on debt repayments, would expose lenders to large losses on the increased debt, particularly if the quality of that debt had been eroded.”

The review also noted households and businesses that derive their incomes from sectors most heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic face an elevated risk of repayment difficulties "if their buffers prove to be insufficient.” 

The RBA said these risks were greatest for leveraged assets, including housing, which thereby meant it was crucial banks did not cut credit standards.

"[In this environment] it is particularly important that there is no excessive risk-taking by the financial sector," the RBA said.

"Even if lenders do not weaken their own settings, increased risk-taking by optimistic borrowers could see a deterioration in the average quality of new lending."

"This would weaken the resilience of businesses and households, and so the financial system, to future shocks," the RBA concluded.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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