The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released its latest Monthly Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions Statistics (MADIS), revealing that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) was the only major bank to thicken its mortgage book over the first month of 2020.
CBA’s total home lending portfolio grew by approximately $1.2 billion in January, from $444.8 billion to $446 billion.
The bank’s growth was mostly driven by an increase of approximately $1 billion in its owner-occupied portfolio, from $288.3 billion to $289.3 billion.
Investor volumes also contributed to CBA’s performance, with the bank’s investment portfolio rising by approximately $200 million, from $156.5 billion to $156.7 billion.
Following the release of CBA’s HY20 results, CEO Matt Comyn told investors that he was “surprised” by the group’s home-lending performance, which he described as “unusual” given the bank’s size.
“I’ve not seen [this level of growth] since the GFC, it surprised us that it persisted,” he said.
Mr Comyn attributed the bank’s performance in the mortgage market to “consistency” in its home loan approval process, which particularly bolstered broker-originated volumes.
However, Mr Comyn does not expect the bank to sustain similar levels of home-lending growth in the second half of FY20.
“I feel like we’ve had a good start to the year, so I feel good about January and February, but we wouldn’t expect our volume performance in home lending to persist at these levels,” he said.
Meanwhile, CBA’s big four peers failed to grow their books in January.
According to APRA’s statistics, ANZ slipped back into negative territory in January, with its total mortgage book contracting by approximately $300 million, from $246.6 billion to $246.3 billion – cancelling out $300 million book growth over the December quarter.
Most of ANZ’s home lending contraction came via its investment portfolio, which decreased by approximately $200 million, from $85.9 billion to $85.7 billion.
This was compounded by a contraction of approximately $100 million in ANZ’s owner-occupied book, from $160.7 billion to $160.6 billion.
ANZ has publicly acknowledged its shortcomings in the home lending space, with John Campbell, general manager of home loans, recently revealing that the bank is forecasting 2-3 per cent settlement growth in 2020, mostly as a result of the continued uncertainty surrounding responsible lending obligations.
Echoing remarks from ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott, Mr Campbell acknowledged that the bank’s interpretations of compliance with NCCP have increased turnaround times for mortgage applications.
The ANZ GM said the bank’s turnaround times have particularly affected volumes via the broker channel, where he said service propositions play a significant role in determining a customer’s product choice.
“ANZ has for a long time been the bank with the largest broker-originated flow, relying on the broker channel the most,” he said.
“If it’s harder for a customer to know whether they have a deal, or how long it will take to get it through the process, and where they have a choice – which clearly the customers originated through brokers and aggregators do – they will choose to go to where there is certainty and confidence.”
APRA’s data suggests that Westpac’s struggles in the home lending market have also persisted, with the bank’s total mortgage book contracting by approximately $200 million, from $408.2 billion to $408 billion.
Westpac’s owner-occupied book grew in January, rising by approximately $200 million, from $227 billion to $227.2 billion.
However, this was offset by a decrease of approximately $400 million in its investment portfolio, from $181.2 billion to $180.8 billion.
This follows a $3 billion slide in Westpac’s overall book in the three months to December 2019, from $411.2 billion to $408.2 billion.
NAB also failed to thicken its mortgage book in January, with its overall portfolio remaining stable at $261 billion.
The bank recorded strong growth in its owner-occupied book, which increased by approximately $600 million, from $150.5 billion to $151.1 billion.
However, NAB’s owner-occupied growth was entirely offset by a sharp contraction in its investment portfolio, which decreased by approximately $600 million, from $110.5 billion to $109.9 billion.
NAB reported a similar result over the December quarter, with a $2 billion increase in its owner-occupied portfolio overshadowed by a $2.1 billion contraction in its investment portfolio.
Housing credit growth remains subdued
APRA’s latest banking statistics coincided with the release of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) latest Financial Aggregates data, which reported housing credit growth of 0.3 per cent in January, in line with the previous month.
In annual terms, housing credit growth remains subdued, rising 3.1 per cent in the 12 months ending 31 January, down from 4.3 per cent growth in the previous corresponding period.
Total credit growth – which includes personal and business lending – was up 0.3 per cent in January, a slight increase from 0.2 per cent in December.
However, the RBA reported total credit growth of 2.5 per cent in the 12 months to January 2020, down from 4.2 per cent in the previous corresponding period.
Charbel Kadib is the news editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2017, Charbel completed internships with public relations agency Fifty Acres, and the Department of Communications and the Arts.