Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

ABS Housing Finance data shows encouraging signs

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data released today shows the number of new home loans for owner occupiers increased by 6.4 per cent in December compared with November 2008.

The data showed an increase in loan commitments to purchase new dwellings (15.1 per cent), and to construct new dwellings (9.9 per cent).

These figures show that the Rudd Government’s First Home Owners Boost combined with low interest rates are having a positive effect on the housing market.

The Government’s $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy, announced last October, is designed to minimise the impact of the global financial and economic downturn on all Australians.

Part of the stimulus package included the $1.5 billion First Home Owners Boost, which provides first home buyers with a grant of $21,000 for buying new homes or $14,000 for buying established homes.

The ABS figures showed that the number of first home buyer commitments as a percentage of total owner occupied housing finance commitments increased to 25.4 per cent in December compared with 23.6 per cent in November 2008.

Also, the number of housing finance commitments for owner-occupiers rose for the third consecutive month.

It’s good to see young Australians embarking on the dream of home ownership.

Early indicators suggest the FHOB has injected some much-needed confidence into the residential property market.

Construction accounts for about nine per cent of all employment in Australia – nearly one million jobs.

We need to maintain confidence in the housing sector to maintain employment and economic activity.

The First Home Owners Boost is a key component of the Rudd Government’s $3.7 billion housing package, which will boost rental stocks, help people save for their first home and lower housing infrastructure costs for some entry level housing.

In addition, the Government last week announced its intention to construct 20,000 new social housing dwellings for low-income Australians and renew another 2,500.

This program is a key element of the Government’s $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan to support up to 90,000 Australian jobs over the next two years.