Interpreting ABS First Home Buyer Statistics
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been publishing data on loans to first home buyers since 1991.
First home buyers are defined as people entering the home ownership market for the first time as owner occupiers.
Data for these figures come from lenders via reports sent to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) as part of APRA compliance standards.
The figures measure the value and number of loans to first home buyers. They also show first home loan activity as a proportion of total loan activity for all owner-occupied homes, including re-financing.
The ABS figures do not include first home buyers who choose to use their first home as an investment and rent it, or those who are assisted by private lending or gifting by family members. The ABS is exploring the possibility of obtaining this information in the future. The existing collection remains a robust measure of first home buyer activity.
For first home buyer statistics, the ABS recommends that users of the data:
- Note that the ratio as published in Housing Finance (cat. no. 5609.0, Table 2 in the spreadsheet on the Downloads page) includes refinancing of existing loans between lenders, which is part of loan activity. Users should take this into consideration when comparing the ratio to other measures. The ratio can be used as an indication of the number of first home buyers as a proportion of all lending activity for all owner-occupied homes.
- Note that the number of first home buyers is its own series (Table 1 in the spreadsheet) and can be used to determine trends over time. As the series is currently not seasonally adjusted, month to month movements can be challenging to interpret, especially in the smaller states and territories where there is less activity.
- Note that ratios such as first home buyers as a proportion of all lending activity for owner-occupied homes can be volatile. Smaller states and territories are also more affected by irregular or one-off events. For example, an increase in first home buyer activity could simply reflect the release of a large new apartment development, while low total lending could simply reflect the effects of a cold and wet winter on sales.
Improvements to the first home buyer statistics, including details of revisions made to historical series, were published in early October (LINK).
The ABS is investigating options for the future presentation of first home buyer statistics, including a ratio that excludes refinancing and the introduction of a seasonally adjusted series for the number of first home buyers.
An information paper will be released in the coming months to discuss these options and invite feedback.