If there does turn out to be a housing boom, it looks like it will go ahead without the involvement of first-time buyers.
Despite the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cutting the cash rate to an all-time low in August, the proportion of first-time buyers taking out a loan that month shrank from an already low 14.7 per cent in July to just 13.7 per cent.
That's the lowest participation since April 2004.
Economists cited a number of factors keeping new entrants on the sidelines, including a rise in house prices due to strong demand from investors.
Macquarie Research analyst Gabby Hajj said increased job uncertainty also diminished capacity and confidence to enter the market.
"Given (first home buyers) represent new money into the property market, we believe their participation is critical to ensure a resilient pick up in housing activity," he said in a note to clients.
Overall, demand for mortgages moderated after seven straight months of growth when the federal election was in full swing in August.
A total 49,912 home loans were granted in the month, a 3.9 per cent drop from July and more than 2.5 per cent decline expected by economists.
Housing Industry Association senior economist Shane Garrett was disappointed that the number of loans for the purchase and construction of new homes eased to 8347 in August, saying it was a timely warning against complacency towards the housing market.
"The patchiness we are continuing to see in areas of the home loans market means that another interest rate cut from the RBA before the end of 2013 is important in order to ensure that the market recovery fires on all cylinders," he said in a statement.
The RBA and federal Treasury are looking for non-mining sectors of the economy, like housing construction, to take up the slack as the resources boom fades.
Economists will now look for clues to the outlook in Tuesday's release of the RBA's minutes of its October 1 board meeting, when it left the cash rate at 2.5 per cent for a second straight month, and Friday's speech by governor Glenn Stevens.
Although the tone of Monday's data was softer than of late, the value of loans issued by non-bank lenders in August topped the billion-dollar mark for the first time since February 2011.
Financial comparison website RateCity chief executive Alex Parsons said smaller banks and mortgage lenders are stealing market share from the major banks."Although the major banks still hold the lion's share of the home loan market, that's slowly shifting as more people realise that smaller lenders, in the most part, offer better rates - often with the service to match," he said in a statement.