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Why banks are scrutinising home buyers more closely

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Why banks are scrutinising home buyers more closely

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What it means for home lending as banks scrutinise buyers more closely

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The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA) change in the assessment interest rate has sent shivers through parts of the property industry.

However, in reality, it should only affect a few mortgage holders.

Some people with pre-approvals and anyone applying for a mortgage from November 1 will be impacted by APRA’s requirement for authorised deposit taking institutions to increase their assessment of all new applicants’ ability to meet their loan repayments up to 3 per cent above a loan’s product rate.

Coast mortgage specialist Brendan Brial of SMS Finance doesn’t expect this decision will cause a rush of loan applications during the next few weeks.

“I also don’t know that it will slow people down,” he says. “But it will make people reconsider what they can buy.”

From November, a person who signs up for a repayment rate of 2 per cent, for example, will be assessed as to whether they have the capacity to still make the repayments at a rate of 5 per cent interest, within the given term.

This approach isn’t new; lending institutions have always had a minimum floor rate, Mr Brial explains.

“It was only about 18 months ago that they [APRA] actually lowered it to 2.5. The floor rates are set by individual banks based on their own procedures. Some of them already are using more than 2.5 per cent.”

“They are trying to ensure the whole banking system remains stable and that all the banks are only lending to borrowers who can afford the level of debt,” Mr Brial adds.

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Possibly owner-occupiers will be impacted by the APRA decision more than investors who have been coming into the market as they take advantage of the boost in their own home’s value.

Brendan Brial.

So, while the market continues to rise, investors will likely keep buying into property.

“This increase in the interest rate buffer means that they might have to reconsider the value of the investment property they are buying,” Mr Brial adds.

But really, he says no one will know the effect of the APRA decision for some time.

“It’s very much about making a decision and assessing the overall impact in six or 12 months time,” Mr Brial says.

“It’s like turning the Titanic not a sports car; it takes a bit of time.”

This may not be the last change. APRA is committed to considering other macroprudential changes if required.

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