The Definitive Guide To Our Latest Mortgage Stress Research

We have had an avalanche of requests for further information on our recent research which was published as a series of blog posts over the past couple of weeks. Here is a summary of the findings.

In addition, here is a list of links to each segment, which together provides a comprehensive view of the work. This will all be rolled up into our next Property Imperative Report, to be published in a couple  of months.

Note that a number of people went to our 2015 report – The Stressed Household Finance Landscape, which looks at households and their use of small amount credit contracts, a.k.a. payday lending. This is a separate stream of work.

So here are all the links to each element of the mortgage stress and probability of default analysis, with a short summary and publication date.

So Where Will The Property Market Go In 2017?

Having looked at events in the Property Market in 2016, we now turn to our expectations for 2017. There are many uncertainties which may impact the market, but using our surveys and modelling as a guide, we can make some educated guesses. First, mortgage rates will be higher by the end of 2017 than they …

Posted on December 12, 2016

Mortgage Stress And Probability Of Default Is Rising

We have just finished the December update of our mortgage stress and probability of default modelling for the Australian mortgage market. Our model has been updated to take account of the latest employment, wage, interest rate and growth data, and we look are the current distribution of mortgage stress (can households settle their mortgage repayments, …

Posted on December 17, 2016

Mortgage Stress Covers 18.5% Of Book Value

Containing our latest series on mortgage stress and probability of default, we look further at the distribution of mortgage stress and potential defaults, using data from our household surveys, which includes results up to the middle of December 2016. Building on the data we discussed yesterday, it is worth remembering that the bulk of mortgages …

Posted on December 18, 2016

A Segmented View Of Mortgage Stress and Default

As we continue our series on mortgage stress, using the latest data from our surveys, we look at how stress aligns with our core household and property owning segments. To set the context for this, here are a couple of charts showing the mortgage distribution by income and age bands. The majority of mortgages are

Posted on December 19, 2016

Top 20 Postcodes For Mortgage Stress Across Australia

Now we get to the pointy end of our mortgage stress and default analysis. Today we list the top 20 post codes across Australia where the highest number of households currently in mortgage stress reside. We also reveal our estimate for the number of defaults which we expect to occur in the coming months. It …

Posted on December 20, 2016

New DFA Video Blog – Household Mortgage Stress and Defaults

Using data from our household surveys in this new video blog we discuss the findings from our latest modelling. More than 22% of households are currently in mortgage stress, and 1.9% of households are likely to default. Both are likely to rise next year.

Posted on December 20, 2016

The Full 100 Mortgage Stress Listing

To complete our series on mortgage stress, based on our household surveys, here is the complete list of the top 100 most stressed suburbs, and their relative position on the default list, as at December 2016. Victoria has the highest number of suburbs in the listing. As we discussed yesterday, this is based on the …

December 21, 2016

Mortgage Default Heat Map Predictions

In our last post for 2016 we have geo-mapped the probability of mortgage default by post code across the main urban centres through 2017. You can read about our approach to the analysis here. We start with Sydney, which is looking pretty comfortable. Melbourne is also looking reasonable, though with a few hot spots. Brisbane …

Posted on December 31, 2016

Channel Nine News Does House Prices and Mortgage Defaults

A segment today from Channel Nine featured the latest data on Sydney residential property, and featured data from the Digital Finance Analytics mortgage default heat mapping, as well as the latest from CoreLogic on Home Prices.

Posted on January 3, 2017

Affluent suburbs feel heat from rising property costs

The Australian Financial Review featured the Digital Finance Analytics probability of default modelling today. We discussed our analysis on the blog recently. Property buyers in some of the nation’s swankiest suburbs are among those under most stress keeping up mortgage repayments, according to an analysis by postcode of income and debt levels. The young affluent in plush …

Posted on January 9, 2017

ABC News 24 Does Affluent Mortgage Stress

Here is a segment in which we discuss our latest research into the probability of default modelling in a rising interest rate environment.  We highlight the rise of the “Affluent Stressed” households.

Posted on January 9, 2017

A Cumulative View Of Mortgage Rate Sensitivity

We had significant interest in our recent posts on mortgage rate sensitivity in a rising market. One recurring request was for a cumulative view of rate sensitivity. So today we post these views on a segmented basis, using our master household segmentation.

Posted on January 12, 2017

One in five homeowners will struggle with rate rise of less than 0.5%

From ONE in five Australians are walking such a fine mortgage tightrope that they could lose their homes if interest rates rise by even 0.5 per cent. Our love affair with property has pushed Australia’s residential housing market to an eye-watering value of $6.2 trillion.

Posted on January 18, 2017

Home loan rates heading higher as funding costs rise, competition eases

From The Australian Financial Review. Mortgage rates are set to rise for both fixed and variable rate borrowers this year as global interest rates shoot higher, competition eases and capital rules begin to bite. “Borrowers should assume we are at the bottom of the interest rate cycle – in fact we are probably already past … Continue reading “Home loan rates heading higher as funding costs rise, competition eases”

Posted on 18 January 2017

ABC News 24 Does Household Mortgage Rate Sensitivity

We discussed the mortgage  rate sensitivity analysis we recently completed on News 24 tonight.

Posted on 18 January 2017

Check out our extensive recent media coverage.


Positive Property News Supports Household Finance Confidence

The latest Digital Finance Analytics Household Finance Confidence Index, to end December is released today. Overall household confidence is buoyant, and above the neutral setting. Sitting at 103.2, it is up from 100.02 in November.

The property “fairy” has been generous in that property is the key to the index at the moment, with positive news on home price rises, and the effect of the low interest rates following the last RBA cash rate cut flowing through. Home owners with an investment property have now overtaken the confidence score of owner occupied property holders, but both are higher. Those households who are not property active however continue to languish.

We see significant state variations, with those in NSW and VIC most confident, whilst those in WA, although slightly higher, is significantly off the pace.  The impact of changes to the first owner grant there will not flow through into the results for some time to come.

The impact of positive property news has swamped a couple of the negative indicators. For example, more households are saying their costs of living have risen in the past 12 months.

In addition, real incomes, after adjusting for inflation are static or falling. Very few have had any pay rises above inflation, and many none at all.

So, it seems the future of household confidence is joined at the hip with the future of property. In the light of our recent mortgage default modelling, in a rising interest rate market, this may be a concern as we progress through 2017. But at the moment, households are having a party!

By way of background, these results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 26,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health. To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

ABC News 24 Does Affluent Mortgage Stress

Here is a segment in which we discuss our latest research into the probability of default modelling in a rising interest rate environment.  We highlight the rise of the “Affluent Stressed” households.

For those wanting to read more on our research, this is a link is to a list of all the recent analysis we completed.

Investment Mortgages, a 10-Year View

Continuing our series on the 10-year data from our household surveys, today we look at the investment mortgage portfolio. We find some interesting variations compared with the owner occupied borrowing segments, which we discussed recently.

In value terms, 28% of the portfolio is held by exclusive professionals, 15% to suburban mainstream, 14% mature stable families, 10% to young affluent, 9% to rural and 5% to young growing families.  19% of the portfolio was written in 2016.

In 2016, 23% of the loans were to the exclusive professional segment, 14% to young affluent, 11% to rural, 17% to mature stable families, 12% to suburban mainstream, and 5% to young growing families.  Young affluent households were more active last year, than across the entire portfolio.

In 2016, the average value of the mortgage to exclusive professionals for investment purposes was $982,360 compared with $536,193 for young affluent, $652,812 for mature stable families and $412,924 for young growing families.

The analysis shows the penetration of investment properties touches most segments, but is also shows a skew towards more affluent groups.

A 10-Year Segmented View Of The Mortgage Book

Within our household surveys, we record the date when a mortgage was drawn down. This provides a useful perspective of how long the mortgage was been on book. Applying a segmented view of this data offers an interesting perspective on the market.

In this view we have taken data from the past 10 years, and applied our master household segmentation to reveal the distribution of gross balances across the 10-year period.

Well over 20% of all loans in the entire portfolio, by value were written last year. In 2016, 29% of loans were written by young affluent households, 18% by exclusive professionals, 11% by suburban mainstream and 9% by young growing families.

Interestingly, the average loan written in 2016 for our exclusive professional segment was $1,163,950, compared with $691,843 from the young affluent segment, $428,156 for young growing families, and $163,764 in the battling urban segment. This illustrates the greater leverage in the more affluent sectors, which is why they are more exposed to potential rate rises, as we discussed yesterday.

It also again highlights the power of effective segmentation!

Another Perspective On Rate Sensitivity

Yesterday we took a deep dive looking at how sensitive borrowing households are to a prospective rise in their owner occupied mortgage rates. A fundamental, though valid assumption we made was to look at the relative number of households impacted. This distribution led the analysis.

However, we can look at the data through a lens of relative mortgage value, not household count. This changes the perspective somewhat and today we explore this additional dimension.

We use the same movement in rate scenarios, from under 0.5% up, to more than 7% and show the relative portfolio distribution by value of outstanding loans and the tipping point where the household would fall into mortgage stress.

Using this lens, we immediately see that from a value perspective, a significant proportion of value resides in NSW (larger home prices, bigger loans). Within the NSW portfolio, more than 20% of the value would be impacted by a small incremental rise in mortgage rates. We also see some value impacted in VIC and WA, but to a lessor degree. In other words, the more highly leveraged state of households in NSW means a small rise in real mortgage rates will bite hard here. This despite all the focus in the press on WA and QLD!

Another interesting view is created by using our geographic zoning definitions, radiating from the central business district (CBD) in the middle, in concentric rings, out to the suburbs, and into the regions beyond. The areas where sensitivity is highest to small rate rises are the inner and outer suburbs, plus the urban fringe. This is because mortgages are quite large, relative to incomes. In other words, there is a geographic concentration risk which needs to be taken into account.

Our household segmentation models highlights that from a value perspective, young affluent and exclusive professionals have a dis-proportionally large share of value, and a significant proportion of this would be at risk from even a small rise.

Finally, again using our value lens, we can see that the largest segment which would be impacted by a 0.5% or less rate rise are soloists (see our earlier post for definitions) who got their mortgage via mortgage brokers. In comparison, delegators who get their loans direct from the bank, without an intermediary, are least exposed.

So, we conclude it is essential to look at the mortgage portfolio both from a value AND count perspective. But in fact, it is the value related lens which provides the best view of relative risk. This is how risk capital should be allocated.

Larger loans, via brokers are inherently more risky in a rising rate environment.

Mortgage Customer Satisfaction A Drag

Data from Roy Morgan shows mortgage related satisfaction has fallen, whilst banking using an app on a mobile phone or tablet is now more popular than using branches, with 38.8% of Australians using it in an average four-week period, compared with only 28.2% for branches. Satisfaction is a major driver of this trend with 90.7% satisfaction with mobile banking among the big four, compared to 84.8% satisfaction with branches.

CBA leads in satisfaction with mobile banking

With a 93.8% satisfaction rate among its mobile banking customers, the CBA has the highest satisfaction of the 10 major banks and has improved by 2.2% points over the last 12 months. Bendigo Bank is a close second with 93.4%, followed by ING Direct on 92.7%. The remainder of the big four banks were well below this top group with ANZ on 88.4%, NAB on 88.0% and Westpac on 87.7%.

Satisfaction1 with mobile banking2 vs branch banking – 10 Largest Consumer Banks3


1. Based on used in the last 4 weeks 2. Using an App on a mobile phone or tablet 3. Based on customer numbers. Source: Roy Morgan Research Single Source (Australia). 6 months ended November 2015, n= 25,410; 6 months ended November 2016, n=24,727

Satisfaction with branch banking is highest for Bendigo Bank (94%), followed by Bankwest on 90.8% and St George (89.5%). The lowest were Westpac (82.8%) and NAB (85.0%). CBA branch satisfaction is at 85.7%, a long way behind that of its mobile users (93.8%) a gap that has widened over the last 12 months.

Mortgage customers of the big four remain a drag on satisfaction

The mortgage customers of each of the big four banks continue to be a drag on their overall satisfaction, despite historically low home-loan rates. Over the last 12 months, satisfaction among the big four’s home-loan customers has fallen further behind their other customers with a decline by 2.8% points to 75.4%, compared to a drop of only 0.4% points for non-home-loan customers (to 80.5%).

Satisfaction of Mortgage and Non-Mortgage Customers – 10 Largest Consumer Banks1


1. Based on customer numbers. Source: Roy Morgan Research Single Source (Australia. 6 months ended November 2015, n= 25,410; 6 months ended November 2016, n=24,727)

ING Direct has the highest home-loan customer satisfaction (of the top 10) with 94.8%, followed closely by 94.5% for Bendigo Bank. These two remain well clear of the field, with the next best being St George (83.6%) and Bankwest (83.3%). The CBA has the highest home-loan customer satisfaction of the big four with 78.0% and Westpac the lowest (72.6%).

The CBA and NAB the big four improvers in November

The CBA was most improved among the big four for the month of November (up 0.3% points to 82.0%), maintaining its top position. The NAB also improved satisfaction marginally (up 0.1% point to 78.8%) but ANZ (down 0.6% points to 77.5%) and Westpac (down 0.1% points to 76.7%) both declined.

Consumer Banking Satisfaction


Source: Roy Morgan Consumer Banking Satisfaction Report, November 2016, average6-month sample n=25,015.

While the big four maintain a close eye on who is the satisfaction leader among them, the mutual banks remain well ahead of all four. The average satisfaction level for the big four in November was 79.5%, compared to the Mutual Bank’s average of 90.1%. The best performers among the mutual banks were Greater Bank (94.5%), Bank Australia (93.9%) and Teachers Mutual Bank (92.3%), all well ahead of the top ranked big four, the CBA on 82.0%

These are the latest findings from Roy Morgan’s Single Source survey of 50,000+ people pa.

How Households Will Respond To Interest Rate Rises

We have updated our analysis of how sensitive households with an owner occupied mortgage are to an interest rate rise, using data from our household surveys. This is important because we now expect mortgage rates to rise over the next few months, as higher funding costs and competitive dynamics come into pay, and as regulators bear down on lending standards.

To complete this analysis we examine how much headroom households have to rising rates, taking account of their income, size of mortgage, whether they have paid ahead, and other financial commitments. We then run scenarios across the data, until they trip the mortgage stress threshold.

At this level, they will be in difficulty.  The chart shows the relative distribution of borrowing households, by number. So, around 20% would have difficulty with even a rise of less than 0.5%, whilst an additional 4% would be troubled by a rise between 0.5% and 1%, and so on. Around 35% could cope with even a full 7% rise.

If we overlay our household segments, we find that young growing families and young affluent households are most exposed to a small rate rise. However, some in other segments are also at risk.

State analysis highlights that households in NSW are most sensitive, a combination of larger volumes of loans as well a larger loans, relative to incomes resulting is less headroom.

Younger households are relatively more exposed, because their incomes tend to be more limited and are not growing in real terms relative to mortgage repayments.

Analysis by DFA property segment shows that whilst some first time buyers are exposed at low rate movements, those holding a mortgage with no plans to change their properties (holders) are also exposed. In addition, some seeking to refinance are doing so in the hope of reducing payments, because they have limited headroom.

Finally we turn to other insights from our data. First, those households who sourced their mortgage via a mortgage broker are more likely to be in difficulty with a small rate rise, compared with those who went direct to a bank. This, once again, shows third party loans are more risky. This perhaps is connected to the types of people using brokers, as well as the broker’s ability to suggest lenders with more generous underwriting standards and coaching on how to apply successfully.

We also see that rate seekers (we call these soloists) who are driven primarily by best rates, are more sensitive to small rate rises, compared with those who are more inclined to seek advice, and appreciate service more than price (we call these delegators).

Soloists who went via a broker are the most exposed should rates rise even a little, whereas delegators going to a bank, are more able to handle future rises.

Segmentation, effectively applied can results in quite different portfolio outcomes!

Aussies feel pressure on household budget

From AAP. Only one-fifth of Australians think the national economy is in good shape, a new survey has found, in a grim assessment of consumer cheer heading into Christmas.

A quarterly survey by consumer advocacy firm CHOICE has found only about one in five people believe the Australian economy is in good shape – the lowest positive rating since its Consumer Pulse survey began in 2014.

The December results show that consumers are under increasing financial pressure and feel less positive about their household budget and the economy.

“Many Australians start to feel sharper financial pressures leading into the holiday period, as gifts and parties eat into our savings or credit balance,” acting CHOICE chief executive Matt Levey said.

Australians are also reporting a drop in spending on non-essentials, with more than half of respondents tightening the belt and putting off purchase of big ticket items.

CHOICE’s Consumer Pulse report found fears over the economy are the worst they have been since the survey began two years ago, with just one in four households saying they’re living comfortably.

“In particular, our survey shows that Australians between 30 and 49 are more likely to live off credit cards if they run out of money before pay day,” Mr Levey said.

A third of people under 30 said they dipped into their savings in the last year to make it to pay day, while a quarter had borrowed money from family or friends. About 20 per cent of people aged 30 to 49 reported they deliberately missed the due date on a bill.

CHOICE’s report follows the release this week of the federal government’s mid-year budget review, which forecast that despite lower savings, consumers will likely boost spending on the back of low interest rates and employment growth.

However, the Consumer Pulse figures show that consumers are not necessarily feeling confident enough about their financial future to take on more debt or spending.

“MYEFO’s predictions about household savings match what Australians have told our survey,” Mr Levey said.

“But this won’t necessarily translate into higher consumer spending. In the next 12 months, a majority of people say they are planning to cut back on discretionary and non-essential purchases.”

CHOICE’s Consumer Pulse report, which tracks Australians’ views about the economy and household spending, was based on online responses from 1025 people aged between 18 to 75 years.