Owner occupier housing finance commitments were steady in March, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.
In Tasmania, new loan commitments to owner-occupier first-home buyers made up between one-quarter and one-third of the state’s total loan commitments.
Just over 33 per cent of first-time Tasmanian lenders sought finance for a dwelling and about 26 per cent for a house.
Nationwide, new loan commitments in March totalled $14.34 billion for owner-occupiers and $5.1 billion for investors.
The total value of new loan commitments for housing rose by 0.2 per cent in March, seasonally adjusted, according to the March 2020 Lending to Households and Business figures released by the ABS.
ABS chief economist Bruce Hockman said new loan commitments for housing were steady in March, despite escalating COVID-19 restrictions.
He said March loan commitments largely reflected loan applications submitted in February or the first half of March before major restrictions were introduced.
“Some lending institutions reported a slowdown in new loan applications towards the end of March,” Bruce said.
Real Estate Institute of Australia president Adrian Kelly said that in the months to come, the March figures may reveal themselves as a “high point”.
“With lending institutions reporting a slowdown in new loan applications from the end of March — as restrictions on movements and caution about the economy impact on activity in the housing market — we may find the March finance figures will be a high point for some months to come,” he said.
“Overall the figures for March show, in seasonally adjusted terms, that the value of owner-occupied finance commitments — excluding refinancing — increased slightly for the month and by 17.5 per cent for the past year.
“While the value of new loan commitments for owner-occupier housing has grown in 10 of the past 12 months, the March loan commitments reflect loan applications submitted before restrictions were introduced in response to COVID-19.
“The increase in the number of owner-occupier first-home buyer loan commitments for the month and for the year could, in part at least, be attributed to the introduction of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme in January.”