Strong house price growth, falling unemployment and low interest rates have helped keep Australian mortgage arrears near record lows.

According to Fitch Ratings’ Dinkum Index, Australian mortgage arrears fell to 0.95% in the December 2015 quarter, down 0.2% compared to the same period in 2014.

That mark is the lowest seen in the December quarter for 11 years according to Fitch Ratings.

“The level of arrears in 4Q15 reflected strong house price growth, low unemployment, low standard variable rates and low inflation,” The Fitch Ratings report said.

According to the report, moderating house price growth could see an increase in losses associated with mortgage arrears over the coming year, but recent regulatory intervention has likely helped to give borrowers some breathing room.

“Losses are likely to remain limited, despite the likely slowdown in property price growth, because of tighter serviceability assessments recommended by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission,” the report said.

“The introduction of measures, such as interest-rate floors, means borrowers should have more buffers to withstand increases in interest rates and unemployment, and a slowdown in the housing market.”

The relatively positive conditions don’t extend to all of the mortgage market however, with 30+ day arrears for self-employed borrowers increasing 0.32% to 7.29% in the December 2015 quarter.
 

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