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‘Out of hand’ investors could trigger RBA hike

A resurgence in investor lending could see the Reserve Bank lift the cash rate earlier than expected, according to a market analyst.

The latest ABS figures show that the value of investor housing finance increased by 4.9 per cent over November. Investor lending is now up 21 per cent year-on-year, which is the fastest growth rate since H1 2015, which saw the implementation of APRA’s macroprudential regulations.

“I have a feeling that this is probably a bit of a wake-up call for the RBA,” Digital Finance Analytics (DFA) principal Martin North said.

“I think they will lift rates sooner rather than later because I think it has gotten out of hand. All indicators suggest that rates will rise.”

Mr North added that there are considerable proportions of households that are exposed to even small rate rises.

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“Some of these are the more affluent households. They have such large mortgages and flat income growth,” he said. “The market could be up for a bit of a transformation in 2017.”

HSBC Australia chief economist Paul Bloxham believes most of the revival in investor activity is being driven in Sydney and Melbourne, where house prices posted strong gains in 2016.

“It has a number of implications, the first of which is, this is likely to make the RBA somewhat uncomfortable. This firms up our already held view that the RBA is unlikely to cut interest rates any further,” said Mr Bloxham.

“Our central case is that the RBA is on hold through 2017 and that they start to lift interest rates in 2018.”

[Related: All eyes on APRA as investor lending surges 20%]

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