COMMONWEALTH Bank has increased its share of first home loans, securing 40 per cent of the national market with its subsidiary Bankwest in December, and on the back of sharp falls in the sector in New South Wales and Queensland, a survey reveals.
Commonwealth Bank captured 29.6 per cent of the first home buyer market last month, while Bankwest secured 9.3 per cent, mortgage broker Australian Finance Group (AFG) said in its analysis of just under 2000 brokers.
Housing finance figures released in mid-January had shown that just 1383 home loans were taken out by NSW first home buyers in November, while 1417 of such loans were taken out in Queensland - a drop of more than 30 per cent from the previous month. The state governments had withdrawn financial grants for first home buyers last year.
"The first home buyers of today are the upgraders, the refinancers and the investors of tomorrow - without them, the future for the whole market is concerning," AFG general manager Mark Hewitt said. "We need more lenders to follow the lead set by the CBA group and to focus on supporting this segment more."
The owner-occupied market was worth $757 billion in November 2012, according to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.
Commonwealth Bank's strong December performance lifted the major lenders' share of the first home loans market to 77.5 per cent in 2012, the highest for the year.
Macquarie was the biggest non-major lender for all loans last year, doubling its share from 1.8 per cent to 3.6 per cent of all loans processed, AFG added.
The survey came as the Housing Industry Association (HIA) residential land report, also released on Thursday, showed a 17.8 per cent fall in residential land sales for the September quarter last year. But this was 14.9 per cent higher than the record low the year before, HIA chief economist Harley Dale said.
"This latest update highlights the uncertainty around whether the new home building sector can mount a recovery that is both sustainable and of the magnitude Australia's population and economy require," Mr Dale said, adding that the sales signalled a "rocky road for any new home building recovery in 2013".