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--Overall Housing Finance Declines Unexpectedly in September
     SYDNEY (MNI) - Housing-finance data for September published by the
Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday:
                                               September                  August
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      (M/M %, seasonally      (M/M %, seasonally
                                               adjusted)               adjusted)
Number of Owner-Occupied Dwelling                              +1.5(revised from
Commitments                                         -2.3                   +1.0)
MNI Median Consensus                 +3.0 (-0.5 to +4.5)
-Construction of Dwellings                          -2.6                    -2.3
-Purchase of New Dwellings                          +1.8                    +1.7
-Purchase of Established
Dwellings                                           -2.6                    +2.0
Value of Dwelling Commitments                       -3.6                    +2.0
-Owner occupied housing                             -2.1                    +0.4
-Investment housing                                 -6.2                    +4.8
     FACTORS: The number of loans to first-time home buyers fell in September,
the first drop since April, but this followed a sharp rise in August. Such loans
have been rising recently due to a change to first-time home buyer incentives
made in July by the New South Wales and Victorian provincial governments. The
overall increase has increased the ratio of first-time home buyer finance
commitments to total mortgages to 17.4% in September from 17.2% in August.
     Overall, finance commitments for owner-occupier dwellings fell unexpectedly
in September due mainly to a drop in loans for the purchase of existing
dwellings and a decline in loans for construction. In trend terms, housing
finance growth slowed slightly to +0.7% in September from +0.8% in August, but
remains higher than +0.1% recorded in April. 
     In value terms, total loan growth fell due to a sharp 6.2% decline in loans
for investment housing and a 2.1% drop in owner-occupier loans. 
     TAKEAWAY: The data was lower than expected and well outside the range
predicted by economists in an MNI survey. They confirm housing market activity
is slowing, which is also evident in the fall in prices in Sydney and a
moderation in price growth in Melbourne.
--MNI Sydney Bureau; tel: +61 2-9716-5467; email: sophia.rodrigues@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MTABLE,MALDS$,M$A$$$,M$L$$$,MT$$$$]

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