Consumers come under pressure with rising house prices
ACCORDING to the latest statistics released by mortgage originator BetterLife Home Loans, the national average home price has risen by almost 8 percent in the year to the end of June, compared with 5.9 percent in the previous 12 months.
However the statistics also show that the rate of home price growth is slowing, having achieved an increase of just 2 percent in the June quarter, compared with an increase of almost 5 percent in the first quarter of this year.
“This shows once again the dampening effect that high cost of living increases have on the property market,” says BetterLife Home Loans chief executive, Shaun Rademeyer.
“This year, there has not been much extra income injected into household budgets by way of salary increases, a large drop in fuel prices like the one that occurred last year or the personal tax cuts usually announced in the Budget.
“And what has come in has been rapidly absorbed, in most cases, by steep food price increases resulting from the ongoing drought in many parts of the country and rising water and electricity costs.
“Meanwhile the average household is already dealing with higher debt repayments thanks to the two interest rate increases announced this year, and the annual increases in water and electricity tariffs just announced by most municipalities, which average around 10 percent.
“In short, most consumers are struggling to make ends meet, and while the demand for property remains high, the decline in discretionary incomes is increasingly limiting what potential buyers are able to afford – and what banks are prepared to lend them.”
Rademeyer says that the banks are, however, still favouring secured lending products such as home loans, and that the percentage of home loan applications being declined outright has dropped to 27 percent in the past year from 28 percent in the previous 12 months.
Meanwhile, he says, consumers are placing larger deposits on their home purchases, possibly due to the favourable interest rates they receive when doing so.
In the first-time-buyer sector of the market, continued strong demand is indicated by a 6.2 percent increase in the average home price in the year to the end of June, compared to a 3.8 percent increase in the previous 12 months, he says.
“In addition, first- time- buyers continue to account for 46 percent of all home loan applications, and almost a third of all home loan approvals, even though this sector has also seen cash deposit requirements rise.
“Our expectation, though, is that it is going to become increasingly tough for prospective buyers at all levels to secure home loans, and increasingly advisable for them to apply through reputable mortgage originators who can prepare, motivate and manage their applications to ensure a chance of success.
“As things stand, those who apply on their own only have a 35 percent chance that their application will be approved, while we are still able to secure approvals for three out of every four applications that we submit.”