In early July, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) made a decision to revise its home lending guidance for authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs).
The prudential regulator scrapped its 7 per cent interest rate floor and raised its buffer rate from a minimum of 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
APRA chair Wayne Byres said that the regulator’s amendments were “appropriately calibrated”, stating that a serviceability floor of more than 7 per cent was “higher than necessary for ADIs to maintain sound lending standards”.
However, speaking to the media following the release of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) full-year results for the 2019 financial year (FY19), CEO Matt Comyn downplayed the stimulatory impact of APRA’s new guidance.
“We’re seeing, and we would expect to see, a rather modest effect from [the APRA revision],” he said.
Mr Comyn stated that only some borrowers would benefit from the changes, claiming that most mortgagors opt not to push the margins.
“As we’ve previously disclosed, almost 90 per cent of borrowers don’t borrow at the maximum, so the application of where the floor [is set] impacts someone who wants to borrow at the maximum,” Mr Comyn continued.
“As you’d expect, across multiple different borrower types and circumstances, it depends on what the benefit will be from the floor. For example, if you’re an owner-occupied, principal and interest borrower, [the changes would] potentially have the greatest effect.
“If you look across the overall portfolio, it’s a relatively modest impact.”
Mr Comyn largely attributed the recently reported recovery in credit and housing market conditions to a general improvement in market sentiment.
However, Mr Comyn noted that the APRA revisions were “appropriate” given the record-low interest rate environment, which he said is likely to remain in place for some time.
In its FY19 results, CBA recorded home lending growth of 3.7 per cent, above system growth of 3.4 per cent.
When including its subsidiary Bankwest, CBA’s total home loan portfolio grew $16 billion from $451 billion in FY18 to $467 billion.
On a standalone basis (excluding Bankwest), CBA’s portfolio grew $14 billion from $381 billion to $395 billion.
Overall, the group reported a cash net profit after tax of $8.49 billion, down $0.4 billion (4.7 per cent) on FY18 ($8.88 billion).
[Related: Mortgage growth offsets CBA’s profit slide]
Charbel Kadib is the news editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2017, Charbel held roles with public relations agency Fifty Acres, and the Department of Communications and the Arts.