RBA rate cuts not working: builders

Another fall in loans for new housing construction suggests lower interest rates aren't working, and it's likely to cause further worry in the building industry.

Australian Bureau of Statistics housing finance data for September showed loans for construction tumbled by a seasonally adjusted 6.3 per cent, for the second straight monthly decline.

Within the ACT, the number of housing finance commitments for buying established homes was more than seven times that of building new dwellings.

A total of 634 established homes were funded at a combined value of $212 million, while 86 homes were funded to be built for $28 million.

The contraction was also the largest monthly decline nationally in almost two years and would leave residential builders feeling ''very nervous'', Master Builders Australia said.

''The housing sector will be struggling for some time to come,'' MBA chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said. ''It puts at risk the Reserve Bank's assumption that the housing industry will offset the decline in the resources sector in 2013.''


The Reserve Bank has cut the cash rate by 150 basis points since November last year, and although Monday's data did not capture the impact of a 25-basis-point cut in October the building sector continues to struggle.

The RBA unexpectedly left the rate unchanged at last week's monthly board meeting, when many economists had expected another reduction, and financial markets now see the next cut as more likely in February next year.

However, it was not all gloom, with the ABS data also showing owner-occupier home loans grew for a second month in a row in September, posting the largest monthly number since December 2011.

These loans grew by 0.9 per cent in September, compared with the previous month, to 46,395 mortgages.

Of these, 19.3 per cent were granted to first home buyers, the largest proportion since January this year.

Mortgage provider Loan Market noted there had been strong lending results in the first three months of the 2012-13 financial year for Western Australia and Queensland, and the two territories.

WA was up by 14.6 per cent in the September quarter from a year earlier, Queensland rose by 7 per cent, the Northern Territory surged by 17.1 per cent and the ACT was up by 6.5 per cent.

The ABS figures showed a significant increase in the number of housing finance commitments for owner-occupied homes in the ACT, jumping 9.2 per cent in the month of September.

It was the largest increase of all the states and territories, ahead of the Northern Territory on 7.1 per cent and Tasmania at 3.4 per cent, and larger than the national average increase of 0.9 per cent.

Canberra's total housing finance commitments in September were valued at $261 million, seasonally adjusted, up from $229 million this time last year.

But Macquarie Research senior economist Brian Redican said the overall pace of recovery was lacklustre when compared with previous housing cycles. with Stephanie Anderson