Property sellers bring plans forward to beat APRA changes on home borrowing

Some home sellers have brought forward their listings in hopes of getting the best price before new mortgage rules kick in and reduce the budgets of potential buyers, agents say.

Potential home buyers who are hoping to borrow the maximum amount are also rushing to get in before the cut-off at the end of October, although some will be disappointed as a few banks have already become more cautious about how much they will lend, and investors with multiple properties are already having to reduce their budgets for their next purchase.

Property buyers will be assessed to ensure they could repay their loans should interest rates rise 3 percentage points, up from 2.5 per cent previously, under recently announced rules by bank regulator the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority that are likely to cut buyers’ maximum borrowing capacity by about 5 per cent.

But with only 8 per cent of applicants borrowing their maximum, on Commonwealth Bank figures, most buyers are unaffected, meaning property prices are likely to keep pushing higher, albeit not at the same pace.

“It’s very much on the top of sellers’ minds to try to get a deal together before the market could be impacted,” The Agency Epping’s Catherine Murphy said.

Last time APRA made it harder to get a home loan, the decision preceded the financial services royal commission that threw bank lending practices into the spotlight, as well as the uncertainty of the federal election, and property prices fell.

Ms Murphy does not expect as much of an impact as last time, tipping prices to keep rising but at a more modest pace.

“If you know buyers, instead of being able to spend $2.5 million, they can only afford to be spending $2.1 million, that counts that buyer out of the game,” she said. “The more buyers you have, the more you end up selling for.”

Adrian William principal Adrian Tsavalas has seen some sellers keen to list sooner to take advantage of the unchanged borrowing capacities in the market now.

“There have been a couple of sellers who were on the fence about listing this year or next year,” he said.

“With the change in regulations and the possible change in borrowing capacity on the cards we’ve seen a number of sellers elect to list and sell this side of Christmas, just in case this has an impact on the market.

“It could possibly ease [price] growth but I don’t think it’s going to cause the market to retract.”

Foster Ramsay Finance principal mortgage broker Chris Foster-Ramsay has seen some buyers aiming to get a pre-approval quickly if they hope to borrow the maximum to stay in their preferred location, perhaps near family or the children’s school.

Some banks are still allowing new buyers, or those renewing pre-approvals, to borrow the maximum under the old rules before November 1, when the new rules kick in. Borrowers have 90 days to use their pre-approval before it expires, meaning buyers will be in the market with larger maximum budgets until the end of January.

Others such as Commonwealth Bank and Bankwest have already changed to the new rules, he said.

“Everything seems to be premium price and premium demand,” he said. “Agents foresee that happening right through until early next year when these changes kick in.”

Shore Financial chief executive Theo Chambers has been fielding questions from pre-approved clients asking how the change affects them and thinking they might need to buy sooner rather than later.

“People that were procrastinating about it are now feeling like they need to get moving,” he said.

“It’s almost a bit too late for those people because some of the banks will apply the change regardless of whether you’re already approved.”

Banks are also making their own changes, such as being more cautious about how much debt borrowers can take on relative to incomes, to reassure the regulator, he said.

Keen investors with multiple properties had been affected, although not dramatically yet, and were hoping to get in before the changes, Mint Equity director and finance broker Zac Peteh said.

One client already had a $900,000 budget reduced to $850,000, he said.

“The strategy that some of the investors had of waiting for the market to return, in terms of stock levels … there’s a little bit of a push with the investors to try and get something done now, rather than waiting until early next year,” he said.

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