S&P says more borrowers falling behind for first time on mortgage repayments

More borrowers are falling behind for the first time on their mortgage repayments, credit ratings agency Standard and Poor's says.

The proportion of owner-occupier home loans in arrears increased to 1.29 per cent in January, from 1.15 per cent in December, the agency says.

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The largest increase was in mortgages between one and two months in arrears, which S&P said suggested an increase in borrowers newly in arrears.

S&P said mortgage arrears had risen in every state and territory in January, and that it expected further increases.

"The high level of household debt in Australia means borrowers are more sensitive to interest-rate movements," S&P said in a statement.

"Lenders have announced rate increases out of cycle with cash rate increases, and we expect arrears to rise further."


The big four banks have all recently increased rates, citing increased funding costs and regulatory requirements.

South Australia recorded the largest increase in arrears from December to January, from 1.53 per cent to 1.81 per cent.

While arrears typically increase between November and April due to Christmas and summer holiday, the ratings agency said the magnitude of the latest increase was higher than in previous months.

However, it said relatively stable employment conditions would support current low levels of defaults and losses on residential mortgage-backed securities.