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The property party is over as our biggest bank curbs lending

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Australia's housing-market extravaganza is over. That's the call the nation's biggest mortgage-lender is making when it comes to its own money.

In the past year, the Commonwealth Bank has reduced its exposure to apartment developers by more than $1 billion, or 23 per cent, according to data included in its first-half earnings report, released on Wednesday.

What's more, the bank included a chart in its results highlighting its overall home-loan portfolio is growing notably slower than its competitors.

It's also pulling back on loans to property investors, which rose just 0.5 per cent compared to 7.5 per cent growth for owner-occupier loans.


Sydney house prices, which surged 75 per cent between February 2012 and July, have now dropped 3.1 per cent from their peak, data released last week showed. But Sydney prices are still up 70 per cent on their cyclical low hit in February 2012.

Melbourne fared somewhat better, thanks in part to rapid population growth, with prices easing 0.2 per cent in January to be 8.0 per cent higher for the year.

Housing loans have been the driver of Australian banks' recent run of bumper profits. So when the nation's biggest lender starts reining back it's a good sign the party is over.