The research comes as the cash rate remains at a record low (2%), with the Reserve Bank electing on October 6 to maintain such conditions for the fifth month in a row.
Michelle Hutchison, Money Expert at finder.com.au, noted that it should not come as a surprise that more borrowers are taking advantage of the low interest rates.
“According to the latest ABS figures analysed by finder.com.au, home loan sizes have increased to their highest levels ever within the last 12 months across Australia. The national average home loan size is now $364,400 – setting a new record – and increasing by 10% since July 2014,” she said.
New South Wales and Victoria have the largest home loan increases of the states since July 2014, at 15% and 10%, respectively. The Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania all posted the lowest increases for the period, at 3% growth or even less.
In terms of increases for first homebuyer loans, only four states saw a growth in size, including New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory.
Indeed, the competitiveness of the property market could be deterring first homebuyers, Hutchinson argued.
Once again, New South Wales took the top spot with a 9% year-on-year increase for first homebuyer loans; this makes the average home loan size for new buyers around $402,100.
Tasmania, however, recorded a 15% drop in its average home loan size from $221,000 to $187,000.
Although the low cash rate is making things more comfortable for borrowers, Hutchinson warned about being too complacent—especially when the rate is expected to change in the near future.
“All borrowers need to remember that these record low interest rates are not here to stay and all signs are pointing to a rate rise, which will lead to higher repayments – approximately $50 per month more for a $300,000 loan size – and thousands of dollars more over the life of your loan,” she remarked.
Hutchinson recommended that buyers should do their research before taking out a loan, and consider a buffer of 2% to 3% to anticipate future rate hikes.
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