Lower interest rates reducing mortgage stress – Roy Morgan

New results from Roy Morgan’s mortgage stress data show that in the three months to April 2017, 16.8% or 666,000 mortgage holders can be considered to be ‘at risk’ or facing some degree of stress over their repayments. This compares favourably with 18.4% or 744,000
mortgage holders 12 months ago.

These are the latest findings from Roy Morgan’s Single Source survey of 50,000+ people pa, which includes more than 10,000 owner occupied mortgage holders.

Mortgage stress is much higher among the lower income groups (Under $60kpa) where it currently reaches 85.3% for those considered ‘at risk’ and 65% for ‘extremely at risk’.

Mortgage stress is based on the ability of home borrowers to meet the repayment guidelines currently provided by the major banks. The level of mortgage holders being currently considered ‘at risk’ is based on their ability to meet repayments on the original amount borrowed. This is currently 16.8%, which is well below the average over the last decade.

DFA comments – interesting findings, presumably looking at owner occupied mortgages? The basis of assessment is different. Also, current repayment guidelines are in our opinion too generous, given current income growth. We think underwriting standards need to be tighter, judging by overall household cash flow, which have been tracking in our mortgage stress analysis.

Finally, whether 666,000 households from Roy Morgan, or 794,000 from DFA, are both big numbers!

 

Japan and Australia cooperate on fintech

The Japan Financial Services Agency (‘JFSA’) and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (‘ASIC’) today announced the completion of a framework for co-operation to promote innovation in financial services in Japan and Australia.

This Co-operation Framework recognises the global nature of innovation in financial services. In this environment, this Framework enables the JFSA and ASIC to share information and support the entry of innovative fintech businesses into each other’s markets.

This Framework will help open up an important market for Australian fintechs. The Japanese economy is the third largest in the world, with services – including financial services – accounting for about three quarters of GDP.

In recent years, the JFSA has been actively involved in encouraging fintech through a range of measures including the modification of the legal system to enable financial groups to invest in finance-related IT companies more easily and establishing a legal framework for virtual currency and Open API. This Framework will encourage Japanese fintech start-ups to engage with innovative financial businesses globally.

ASIC Commissioner John Price said, ‘Japan has been a world leader in technology for a long time. As we move into a new era of financial regulation, we look forward to sharing experiences and insights with our colleagues at the JFSA.’

Shunsuke Shirakawa, JFSA Vice Commissioner for International Affairs, said, ‘We are delighted to establish this Co-operation Framework with ASIC. ASIC is one of the leading Fintech regulators that actively promote fintech by taking progressive actions including setup of the Innovation Hub.

‘We believe that this Framework further strengthens our relationship and facilitates our co-operation in further developing our respective markets.’

The Co-operation Framework will enable the JFSA and ASIC to refer innovative fintech businesses to each other for advice and support via ASIC’s Innovation Hub and the JFSA’s FinTech Support Desk.

It also provides a framework for information sharing between the two regulators. This will enable the JFSA and ASIC to keep abreast of regulatory and relevant economic or commercial developments in each other’s jurisdictions, and help to inform domestic regulatory approaches in the context of a rapidly changing global financial environment.

A formal ‘Exchange of Letters’ ceremony between Australian Ambassador to Japan, the Hon Richard Court AC and State Minister of Cabinet Office, Takao Ochi, took place in Tokyo today to seal the Framework.

This Co-operation Framework further underlines the strength and closeness of the broader Australia-Japan trade and investment relationship.

Background

ASIC is focused on the vital role that fintechs are playing in re-fashioning financial services and capital markets. In addition to developing guidance about how these new developments fit into our regulatory framework, in 2015, ASIC launched its Innovation Hub to help fintechs navigate the regulatory framework without compromising investor and financial consumer trust and confidence.

The Innovation Hub provides the opportunity for entrepreneurs to understand how regulation might impact on them. It is also helping ASIC to monitor and understand fintech developments. ASIC collaborates closely with other regulators to understand developments, and to help entrepreneurs expand their target markets into other jurisdictions.

To date, fintech referral and information-sharing agreements have been made with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, Ontario Securities Commission and Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission. In addition, information-sharing agreements have been signed with the Capital Markets Authority, Kenya and Otoritas Jasa Keuangan, Indonesia.

Informally, ASIC has also met with numerous international fintech businesses referred to us by industry or trade bodies, including delegations from the United Kingdom and the United States.

$6.8bn stamp duty bonanza – at the expense of FHBs

From Mortgage Professional Australia.

Huge NSW revenues from stamp duty have lifted state out of debt but prospective homebuyers are suffering

The New South Wales State Government received $6.8bn from stamp duties on residential property over the past year, the State’s 2017-18 Budget has revealed.

The NSW State Government is now free of debt, with a $4.5bn surplus expected for 2016-17 and a surplus of $2.0bn expected next year. Stamp duty makes up a huge proportion of the State’s income, with revenues jumping 10% over the past year and expected to grow 6% each year for the next three years.

As the State Government grows richer, NSW’s first home buyers are struggling. In a CoreLogic survey of Australians of all ages, 48% of those in NSW said stamp duty was the most significant obstacle to housing affordability. Three-quarters of respondents felt that removing or reducing stamp duty would be an effective way to improve housing affordability in New South Wales.

CoreLogic found that the average household in Sydney would take 1.7 years of no spending whatsoever to save a 20% deposit. Getting on the housing ladder in Sydney was far more expensive than any other city, including Melbourne.

Stamp duty concessions

Perhaps buoyed by its new found wealth, NSW is finally following the lead of other states such as Victoria by expanding stamp duty concessions.

From July 1 stamp duty for FHBs will be abolished for new homes up to $650,000 with discounts on properties of up to $800,000. Additionally, grants of $10,000 will be available for new homes of up to $600,000 and for FHBs who build their home. Stamp duty will no longer be charged on lenders mortgage insurance.

Over the past twelve months, 45.4% of dwellings sold across New South Wales had a price tag of $650,000 or less, notes CoreLogic director of research Tim Lawless. However, in the Sydney metropolitan area, just 25.8% of dwelling sales were at a price of $650,000 or less.

The State’s stamp duty concessions may push Sydney FHBs towards units, given 33.5% of units sold in the last 12 months went for under $650,000. On a $650,000 dwelling purchase, a FHB will save $25,000 by not paying stamp duty.

According to Lawless, “we can expect first home buyer sales to stall over the remainder of June and likely surge higher from the beginning of the new financial year.”

NAB hikes rates for IO loans

The rush to hike interest only loans continues, with NAB announcing changes which mirror the other majors. A small reduction in OO P&I loans but a big hike for IO loans for both OO and investors. Net impact will be further margin repair. No link with the bank levy they say.

From Australian Broker.

NAB has today announced changes to its variable home loan interest rates, effective Friday 30 June 2017.

The following three changes have been announced:

  • The interest rate for owner occupiers making principal and interest repayments will decrease by 0.08% per annum, to 5.24% per annum
  • The interest rate for owner occupiers making interest only repayments will increase by 0.35% per annum, to 5.77% per annum
  • The interest rate for residential investors making interest only repayments will increase by 0.35% per annum, to 6.25% per annum

NAB Chief Operating Officer, Antony Cahill, said the reduction to NAB’s Standard Variable Rate will benefit around 80 per cent of NAB’s owner occupier home loan customers.

“The 0.08% per annum decrease will see owner occupier customers making principal and interest repayments save $14 each month, or $168 each year, and help them to pay off their home loan sooner,” Cahill said.

“We need to comply with our regulatory requirements, including APRA’s 30% limit on new interest only lending for residential mortgages, while balancing the needs of customers across our entire portfolio and continuing to provide competitive rates.”

Cahill acknowledged the impact these changes will have on home loan customers making variable interest only repayments. Borrowers will not incur a fee to switch their repayments to principal and interest; customers are encouraged to discuss variations to their home loan with their banker or broker.

NAB continues to offer first home buyers a special 3.69% per annum, fixed for two years.

“We’re pleased to continue to help Australians, particularly young Australians, wanting to enter the property market to achieve their home ownership dreams,” Cahill said.

From Friday 30 June 2017, NAB’s advertised variable rates will be as follows:

Current advertised rates Advertised rate (Friday 30 June 2017)
Owner Occupier P&I 5.32% p.a. 5.24% p.a.
Investor P&I 5.80% p.a. 5.80% p.a.
Owner Occupier IO 5.42% p.a. 5.77% p.a.
Investor IO 5.90% p.a. 6.25% p.a.

NAB has said the changes announced today are unrelated to the Federal Government’s Major Bank Levy.

 

 

Mortgage Growth In Adelaide and Hobart

We finish our series on mortgage growth by looking at data from Adelaide and Hobart and plotting the relative change in volumes of loans between 2015 and 2017, by post code, drawing data from our core market models, and geo-mapping the results.

Here is Adelaide.

Here is Hobart.

The yellow shades show the areas with the largest growth in the number of mortgages, the red shades show a relative fall in volumes. You can click on the map to view full screen. This is a picture of mortgage counts, not value, we may look at this later.

Compare these pictures with those for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth and we see just how different these markets are!

Of course this is just one of the many potential views available from the 140+ fields which are contained in our Core Market Model.

Who’s responsible? Housing policy mismatched to our $6 trillion asset

From The Conversation.

Does the Australian government have the policy, organisational and conceptual capacity to handle the country’s A$6 trillion housing stock? We ask this question in a newly released research report. The answer is critically important to both household opportunity and prosperity, and to the management of our largest national asset.

Australians’ wealth is overwhelmingly in our housing. As of late 2016, our housing stock was valued at $6 trillion. That’s nearly double the combined value of ASX capitalisation and superannuation funds.

Clearly, the way the housing sector is managed has huge implications for household prosperity and opportunity. The public debate about high house prices, for example, reveals a gnawing anxiety that the distribution of housing as an asset has shifted too far in favour of a growing class of rentiers rather than households.

Housing also has clear national economic implications. This relates both to its scale as an asset, and to the way it provides shelter for those most in need where that need is clear.

Any misallocation of housing to low-productivity uses is potentially a major drag on the economy. This necessarily requires a wide understanding of productivity.

How is Australian housing policy framed?

We asked whether there is a clear systematic policy framework through which the Australian government understands the dynamics of the housing system and its contribution to productivity. We might expect such a framework to be clear and prominent given recent public and policy attention to housing questions.

To better understand the Commonwealth’s approach, we surveyed recent major housing policy reviews by the government. We assessed how housing was conceived in terms of its economic and social dynamics, its influence on productivity, and the role of policy in shaping these effects.

There is no shortage of documentation to appraise. Our sample included the Henry Review of Taxation (2010), the National Housing Supply Council report series (2009-2013), the Productivity Commission inquiry into planning (2011), the COAG Report on Housing Supply and Affordability Reform (2012), the Financial System Inquiry (2014), the Federation Report on housing and homelessness (2014), and (albeit not a government report) the Senate Inquiry into housing affordability (2015).

We also prepared an inventory of housing policy instruments operated by governments in Australia to understand how these were conceived within the policy reviews. We found 13 policy instruments that influence housing systems. These operate across housing, economic and fiscal policy and at multiple tiers of government.

A picture of incoherent policymaking

We were surprised to discover that few of the major policy reviews provided a systematic framework for understanding the economic role of housing.

There is thin evidence, at best, that these inquiries constructed or articulated a systematic conceptual understanding of the links between the housing system and economic productivity.

Even the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into planning and zoning, which focused on housing affordability, did not offer a conceptual framework for understanding the influence of planning regulaton on urban or national productivity.

Our review of these documents further shows there is no coherent framework articulating how policy objectives link to instruments and their effects. Housing policy, despite the $6 trillion value of housing, seems strangely incoherent. Australia doesn’t currently have a minister for housing.

The debate over negative gearing during 2015 and 2016 partly demonstrates our contention. During this period we counted at least six reports by non-government organisations articulating a view on the purpose and effect of negative gearing. Nowhere could we identify a government policy document articulating a clear, extended and analytically based position on this policy explaining its purpose and effects.

Our search for an explanation of these gaps in policy was not exhaustive. But we did assess the current administrative orders for housing within the Australian government.

Responsibility for understanding housing issues is divided. The Department of Social Services is responsible for social housing, rent assistance and home ownership. The Treasury has responsibility for housing supply policy.

Elsewhere, the Reserve Bank deals with monetary policy and financial stability. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority APRA manages macroprudential policy. And the Tax Office (ATO) administers tax concessions. The Productivity Commission offers occasional advice on housing.

Yet there appears to be no obvious co-ordinating point in government that oversees housing. No one authority is responsible for formulating a coherent systematic understanding of housing and its effects on productivity and Australia’s economy or society generally. The National Housing Supply Council established in 2009 partly filled this role, but was abolished in 2013.

Further dispersion appears via COAG, which is convened by the Commonwealth government. COAG periodically marks out a housing issue, such as land supply, for discussion with state governments and to formulate policy recommendations. But COAG communiques are typically short political statements and not analytically founded.

Within state governments, responsibilities for different aspects of housing are typically spread across several agencies.

What needs to be done?

Our report demonstrates weaknesses in Australia’s approach to housing and housing policymaking. There is evidence this is deliberate. For example, the Coalition members’ minority response to the 2015 Senate inquiry into affordable housing rejected almost all of its policy recommendations. Many of these would rectify some of the deficits we have identified.

The weak formal coordination in housing policy contrasts with other sectors such as energy, defence, biosecurity, disability, heritage, drugs and road safety, among others. Each has a dedicated national strategy articulating policy objectives, problem conceptualisation and coordination of policy instruments.

It is doubtful that housing is less significant to the nation, economically or socially, than these sectors.

We recommend that the Australian government reflects on the position of housing within the architecture of government. The $6 trillion national asset that housing represents deserves much better understanding of its dynamics and effects on the national economy, including productivity.

We argue that Australia needs a federal minister for housing, a dedicated housing portfolio, and an agency responsible for conceptualising and co-ordinating policy. The current fragmented, ad-hoc approach to housing policy seems poorly matched to the scale of the housing sector and its importance to Australia.

Authors: Jago Dodson, Professor of Urban Policy and Director, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University; Sarah Sinclair, Lecturer in Economics, RMIT University; Tony Dalton, Emeritus Professor, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University

SA To Tax Banks Too

The SA budget today contained a surprise. They plan to charge a 0.015 per cent levy on the major banks bank bonds and deposits over $250,000 but will exclude mortgages and ordinary household deposits.

The tax to be introduced 1 July is expected to raise $370 million over four years.

At  it represents SA’s estimated share of bank liabilities subject to the Commonwealth’s quarterly levy, and the state treasurer cited the profitability of the banking sector and suggested that they have not been doing right by their customers.

So now the risk will be other states following suite. The banks are an easy target, profitable and unpopular; but we need to be aware of the unintended consequences of this move. Once again it is likely the costs will be passed on the bank customers, as the tax will lift the banks treasury costs, so this becomes an further indirect tax on consumers, just rather well hidden. And “convenient”.

The ABA responded:

Sydney, 22 June 2017: A new proposed tax on five Australian banks by the South Australian Government is an outrageous cash grab without policy substance, the Australian Bankers’ Association Chief Executive Anna Bligh said today.

“States are not responsible for banking policy. There is absolutely no policy reason for this announcement, other than a need for the South Australian Government to raise revenue in a desperate political move,” Ms Bligh said.

“Let me be clear – it is not the job of banks to prop up government budget shortfalls.

“South Australia is a state that needs economic confidence – at 6.9 per cent it has the highest unemployment rate nationally. Today’s announcement is the worst possible signal to the business community in South Australia and will make South Australia less competitive, potentially driving jobs to other states,” she said.

“This announcement is staggering for a group of Australian banks that are already among the highest corporate tax payers.

“These are banks that provide jobs for South Australians, lend to South Australian businesses and help South Australians into their homes.

“Tax policy in Australia is now becoming a joke at the whim of political opportunism and South Australia is trying to impose triple dipping for bank taxation,” Ms Bligh said.

“The banks impacted by this proposal pay full corporate tax, the Federal Government has just passed a new bank tax and now the South Australian Government is trying to impose a third state tax.

“The impacted banks call on every Australian Premier and First Minister to rule out a similar tax.

“Furthermore, when the GST was introduced, a range of state taxes were eliminated, including some state taxes relating to financial institutions. Today’s announcement is a step back in time.”

ANZ said:

ANZ Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliott today responded to the South Australian Government’s announcement of a new state-based bank tax.

Mr Elliott said: “This deeply concerning tax will likely impact business investment in South Australia at a time when its economy is struggling with low growth, low business confidence and high unemployment.

“All businesses will rightly question the political risk associated with investing in a State with a Government prepared to unfairly target an industry that has played a significant role in supporting its lagging economy.

“South Australia does not need another drag on its economy after the repeated power failures over the last few years. Given its issues they would be wise to be more welcoming of both investment and capital,” Mr Elliott said.

“The comments attributed to the State Treasurer show a clear lack of understanding of the role banking plays in supporting the South Australian economy and the damage that opportunistic and ill-considered cash grabs will have on the long term economic prospects of the State,” Mr Elliott concluded.

NAB said:

Today’s announcement by the SA Government is poor policy without logic.

The role of the Australian banks is to support customers and communities and drive economic growth and activity. It is not to be a blank cheque so governments can cover their own budget shortfalls.

South Australians want their state to be more attractive to investment that will enable it to transition its economy and create new opportunities and jobs – this tax will do the opposite.

 

 

Scott Morrison is cracking down on credit cards

From Business Insider.

Australians have around $52 billion in debt outstanding on credit cards and the federal government is going after this lucrative part of the banking sector with four tough new measures in a crackdown on card debt.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced plans to change the way eligibility for a credit card is assessed, shifting it from the ability to pay the minimum repayment to being able “to repay the credit limit within a reasonable period”.

Before the end of the year, Morrison has pledged to pass legislation banning unsolicited offers of credit limit increases. The ban follows on from changes in 2011 which stopped card issuers offering written offers to increase credit limits unless the customer had already given consent. Banks switched to verbal offers as a way around the laws.

The remaining changes will see interest calculations simplified and force providers to offer online options to cancel cards or to reduce credit limits.

Morrison argues that under the current arrangements, people enticed to a card by an interest-free period have no way of calculating the cost and interest charges if they do not pay off the balance in full when the offer period ends.

Such are the technicalities and complications, most consumers have no idea how interest charges apply, and therefore incur heavy interest charges after the interest-free period when their balance is not paid in full.

Morrison said the government was targeting “unfair and predatory practices” by credit card providers.

“These measures will deliver the first phase of reforms outlined in the Government’s response to the Senate Inquiry into the credit card market,” he said.

“The reforms will substantially reduce the incidence of consumers being granted excessive credit limits and building up unsustainable debts across multiple credit cards.

“Collectively, these measures will help prevent the debt cycle that many Australians find themselves in.”

Of the $52 billion owed on 16.7 million credit cards in Australia, which often attracts interest charges of around 20%, the average outstanding balance is $4,730.

What’s The Correlation Between Mortgage Stress And Loan Non Performance?

Last night DFA was involved in a flurry of tweets about the relationship between our rolling mortgage stress data and mortgage non-performance over time. The core questions revolved around our method of assessing mortgage stress, and the strength, or otherwise of the correlation.

We were also asked about our expectations as to when non-performing mortgage loans will more above 1% of portfolio, given the uptick in stress we are seeing at the moment.

Our May 2017 data showed that across the nation, more than 794,000 households are now in mortgage stress (last month 767,000) with 30,000 of these in severe stress. This equates to 24.8% of households, up from 23.4% last month. We also estimate that nearly 55,000 households risk default in the next 12 months.

However, it got too late last night to try and explain our analysis in 140 characters. So here is more detail on our approach to mortgage stress, and importantly a chart which slows the relationship between stress data and mortgage non-performance.

Our analysis uses our core market model which combines information from our 52,000 household surveys, public data from the RBA, ABS and APRA; and private data from lenders and aggregators. The data is current to end May 2017.

We analyse household cash flow based on real incomes, outgoings and mortgage repayments. Households are “stressed” when income does not cover ongoing costs, rather than identifying a set proportion of income, (such as 30%) going on the mortgage.

Those households in mild stress have little leeway in their cash flows, whereas those in severe stress are unable to meet repayments from current income. In both cases, households manage this deficit by cutting back on spending, putting more on credit cards and seeking to refinance, restructure or sell their home. Those in severe stress are more likely to be seeking hardship assistance and are often forced to sell.

We also make an estimate of predicated 30 day defaults in the year ahead (PD30) based on our stress data, and an economic overlay including expected mortgage rates, inflation, income growth and underemployment, at a post code level.

Here is the mapping between stress and non-performance of loans.

The red line is the data from the regulators on non-performing mortgage loans. In 2016 it sat around 0.7%. There was a peak following the 2007/8 financial crisis, after which interest rates and mortgage rates came down.

We show three additional lines on the chart. The first is our severe stress measure, the blue line, which is higher than the default rate, but follows the non-performance line quite well. The second line is the PD30 estimate, our prediction at the time of the expected level of default, in the year ahead. This is shown by the dotted yellow line, and tends to lead the actual level of defaults. Again there is a reasonable correlation.

The final line shows the mild stress household data. This is plotted on the right hand scale, and has a lower level of correlation, but nevertheless a reasonable level of shaping. After the GFC, rates cuts, plus the cash splash, helped households get out of trouble by in large, but since then the size of mortgages have grown, income in real terms is falling, living cost are rising as is underemployment. Plus mortgage rates have been rising, and the net impact in the past six months, with the RBA cash rate cut on one hand, and out of cycle rises by the banks on the other, is that mortgage repayments are higher today, than they were, for both owner occupied borrowers and investors. Interest only investors are the hardest hit.

Households are responding by cutting back on their spending, seeking to refinance and restructure their loans, and generally hunkering down. All not good for broader economic growth!

So, given the severe stress, mild stress and our PD30 estimates are all currently rising, we expect non-performing loans to rise above 1% of portfolio during 2018. Unless the RBA cuts, and the mortgage rates follow.

 

Mortgage Growth In Greater Perth

We continue our series on mortgage growth plotting the relative change in volumes of loans between 2015 and 2017, by post code, drawing data from our core market models, and geo-mapping the results.

Here is the Greater Perth picture.

The yellow shades show the areas with the largest growth in the number of mortgages, the red shades show a relative fall in volumes. You can click on the map to view full screen. This is a picture of mortgage counts, not value, we may look at this later.

Of course this is just one of the many potential views available from the 140+ fields which are contained in our Core Market Model.

Next time we will look at Adelaide and Hobart.