Housing finance beats forecasts

The demand for home loans was stronger than expected in February.

The demand for home loans was stronger than expected in February, but the proportion of loans to first home buyers is at the second-lowest level on record, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The data showed the number of home loans granted in February rose by 2.3% to a seasonally adjusted 52,460.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected the number of housing finance commitments to lift by 1.5% in the month.

Total housing finance by value lifted by 2.9% in February, seasonally adjusted, to $27.644 billion.

Loans to first home buyers, as a share of total of housing loans, fell to 12.5% - the second-lowest level since data commenced in 1991.

The average loan size fell by 2.3% in February but is almost 6% higher over the year.

The value of loans for investment housing rose by 4.4% in February to $10.737bn, after falling by 3.3% in January.

The value of loans for owner occupied housing lifted by 1.9% to $16.907bn in February.