Investors driving home price growth
Home loan approvals fell in July, suggesting investors are driving the recent pick-up in housing demand.
The number of home loans approved dropped 4.2 per cent in the month and the total value of housing finance was down 1.8 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The value of owner-occupier home loans slumped 3.1 per cent, but the value of investor loans rose 0.5 per cent.
ANZ economists said the figures indicate investors were behind recent home price growth.
"This was the third month in a row where investor borrowing diverged from owner-occupied borrowing, suggesting to us that investors are driving the recent pick-up in housing demand," they said.
However, the economists also noted that other, more recent data on the housing market, including August house prices and auction clearance rates, had been more positive.
"This suggests that the drop in finance is likely to be temporary," they said.
JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said the data indicated the housing sector was unlikely to be a hurdle for the Reserve Bank if it wanted to cut rates again in 2017.
"Comments from outgoing RBA governor Glenn Stevens seem to endorse this view, highlighting that house price growth has been mixed across the country, while activity doesn't seem to be underpinned by excessive leverage," he said.
Housing Industry Association chief economist Harley Dale said lending for existing investment properties would be even lower and lending for new investment properties would be healthier if it weren't for the uncertainty generated by proposed changes to superannuation and negative gearing.
"That's exactly what policy makers are after, yet their own actions are delaying the outcome and hampering affordability," he said.