Australian household wealth is back to record levels and combined with an improving appetite for spending could be good news for a property market, which is already heavily dependent on opportunistic investors as first-home buyers stay on the sidelines.
The latest financial accounts prepared by the ABS show that net Australian household financial wealth per capita rose from $73,352 to $75,955 in the March quarter, to be up 22.1% over the past year.
Net financial wealth peaked in early 2007 just before the GFC, then fell sharply, but has now surged to a new high.
The financial accounts also show that just over 22% of total household assets are being held in cash and deposits.
CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says that while this is well above the decade average of 20.4%, it have eased over the past few quarters.
“The latest data on household wealth certainly provides Aussie households with a bit of cheer and could not come at a better time, especially given the underlying level of conservatism,” says Sebastian.
“The global financial crisis caused the biggest ever drop in wealth for Australian households, however wealth levels have continued to repair over past couple of years and are now back at record highs.
“The sustained improvement in wealth levels and low interest rate environment has resulted in household tentatively starting to spend.
“The improvement in household balance sheets certainly bodes well for future spending.
“And given that a low interest rate environment is likely to be part of the economic landscape over the coming year, it may prompt consumers to invest in other asset classes and spend a little bit more freely,” he says.
April ABS housing finance data shows that the value of home loans taken out by investors rose by 1.1% to five-year highs in April totalling $81.4 billion, while the value of owner-occupier housing loans fell 0.9% to $14.6 billion.
The value of investment home loans to purchase established homes for rent or resale has been rising for nine straight months (since August 2012) and totalled just over $7 billion in April up from $6.82 billion in March.
A year ago the value of investment home loans to purchase established homes for rent or resale was $5.76 billion – an annual increase since then of 21.5%.
This article first appeared on Property Observer.