RBA still anxious about housing credit

Bank lending to property investors has increased steadily since early 2016 despite efforts to tighten lending standards, says the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA's) April monetary policy meeting focused on the recent measures by APRA and ASIC to "support prudent lending practices" in the housing market.

The RBA noted that APRA's imposition of a 10 per cent benchmark for investor credit growth led to an "initial moderation" coupled with a fall in the share of lending with high loan-to-value ratios.

However, growth in investor credit "increased steadily since early 2016, despite the fact that banks had tightened lending standards", noted the RBA.

The growth in housing credit to investors also continued despite the increased margin between investor housing loans and own-occupier loans, said the RBA.

The RBA minutes noted that developments in the housing market "need to be kept under review".

"Depending on how the system responds to the various measures, the Council of Financial Regulators [will] consider further measures if needed," said the minutes.

The RBA noted that "some banks" have curtailed lending to segments of the housing market – "notably the Brisbane apartment market" – where the supply of apartments is expected to increase "significantly".

"Reports of settlement failures had remained isolated. [RBA board] members also noted the higher interest rates facing most investors, especially those with interest-only loans," said the RBA.

[Related: APRA seeks to reduce 'contagion risk']

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