A NATIONAL housing recovery may be facing a new hurdle, with first-home buyer mortgage commitments sliding to record lows in some states, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Between December 2012 and January 2013, first-home buyer commitments slipped by 11 per cent, sparking concerns that the Australian housing market will continue to face strong headwinds if the trend is not reversed.
The number of first-home buyers as a percentage of total owner-occupied housing commitments remained steady at 14.9 per cent in January, but this has decreased steadily since September, when it sat at 19.4 per cent.
New South Wales and Queensland experienced record lows for first-home buyer commitments in January, with 7 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
Levels have plunged in these states by more than 10 per cent since their governments replaced first-home owner grants with incentives to buy new properties.
These statistics are driving the national average downwards, with Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria all trending up over the same period.
“The bulk of first-home buyers are still buying established dwellings, because they are more affordable,” said Angie Zigomanis, senior manager residential, BIS Shrapnel.
“In states like New South Wales, when the government announces it is putting an end to an incentive and telegraphs it, a lot of home buyers bring their plans forward.”
The result of the rush to get in before October means that many who would have been in the market now, purchased last year instead.
“There are a fixed number of first home buyers out there, people that haven’t bought yet and are considering it” said Mr Zigomanis.
“You can’t create new demand out of thin air; you can only push it forwards or pull it back. The market is quiet now as a result of being pushed forwards.”