Lending Indicators methodology

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Reference period
November 2019

Explanatory notes


This publication presents statistics on borrower-accepted commitments made for the purposes of housing, personal and business lending.

A borrower-accepted commitment is a firm offer to provide a loan which has been accepted by the borrower. A commitment exists once the loan application has been approved, and a loan contract or letter of offer has been issued to the borrower, and the borrower has accepted the offer.

Data is sourced from all Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs) and Registered Financial Corporations (RFCs) that have significant lending activity in Australia for the purposes of housing, personal or business lending.

Significant lending activity is determined by a reporting threshold, which is based on the amount of housing, personal or business credit outstanding as reported on the Reporting Form ARF 720.1 A/B ABS/RBA Loans and Finance Leases (Banks)/(Non-Bank ADIs and RFCs):

Business financebusiness credit ≥ $2.0 billion
Housing financehousing credit ≥ $6.0 billion
Personal financepersonal credit ≥ $0.5 billion

The reporting thresholds capture approximately 95% of lending activity for each purpose.

Geographical coverage

Data is available at the state and national level for housing. Data for personal and business lending are available at the national level only.


The EFS collection is administered by APRA on behalf of the RBA and the ABS. Specifically, the reporting forms include:

Collection method

ADIs and RFCs which meet the reporting threshold report to APRA. For these statistics, APRA does not collect borrower-level or loan-level data; lenders report a single number for each data category.

Concepts, sources and methods

The EFS collection has detailed reporting guidance and definitions, please refer to Reporting Practice Guide RPG 701.0 ABS/RBA Reporting Concepts and Reporting Standard ARS 701.0 ABS/RBA Definitions.

How the data is released

Lending Indicators is released monthly, 28 working days after the end of the reference month.

Information published

Lending Indicators main output is information on the value and number of new loan commitments during the month. The data is available in various categories based on:

  • Lending purpose: Housing, Personal and Business.
  • Property lending purpose: Investment, Owner Occupier.
  • Property lending sub-purpose: for example, construction, new dwellings, purchase of existing dwellings, residential land.
  • Customer type: First home buyers, households, businesses.
  • Lender type: High level aggregate series only, for major banks, other ADI’s and non-ADIs.
  • Selected items are available by state and territory.

First home buyers

Data about first home buyers includes the numbers of new loan commitments to first home buyers who are investors and to those who are owner occupiers. There are seasonally adjusted and trend series available for owner occupier loan commitments but not for investor loan commitments. Data about loan commitments to first home buyers who are investors was collected for the first time in July 2019 and a short, unadjusted series is available.

Previously, the ABS published a first home buyer ratio which was the ratio of owner occupier first home buyer loan commitments to all owner occupier loan commitments. First home buyer ratios should be used with caution because the direction of movements in the ratio are often not indicative of the direction of movement in the number of first home buyers.

No ratios are currently published in the time series spreadsheets, but owner occupier first home buyer ratios can be derived by users in a number of ways including:

  • A ratio of first home buyer loan commitments to total dwelling commitments (excluding refinancing). This is similar to the ratio published prior to October 2019. Loan commitments for dwellings is the sum of loan commitments for construction of dwellings, newly erected dwellings and existing dwellings.
  • The ratio of first home buyer loan commitments to total housing loan commitments (excluding refinancing). This ratio uses the new key statistic, total housing loan commitments. Total housing loan commitments is the sum of loan commitments for dwellings and loan commitments for purchases of residential land and alterations and additions.

Business size

Data on business lending is available by purpose for small and medium businesses. The way that businesses are categorised to size categories may vary between lending institutions. Where possible, businesses are categorised according to APRA methodology, which is based on turnover and the value of the borrower's exposure to the lending institution. Where the APRA methodology cannot be used, either exposure size or turnover can be used. For more information please see the Reporting Practice Guide RPG 701.0 ABS/RBA Reporting Concepts.

Residential land

Loan commitments for residential land has been collected for owner occupiers and investors separately since July 2019, it was previously collected as one value. Loan commitments for residential land has been backcast for owner occupiers and investors to be used in the key statistic, total housing. The backcast data however has not been published as the split between owner occupier and investor is only estimated for the purposes of contributing as a component of the total, rather than as stand alone series.

How the data is processed

Data is collected by APRA and received by the ABS where the data is processed and aggregated. Response rates for the collection are usually close to 100%.

Seasonal adjustment

Seasonal adjustment is a means of removing the estimated effects of normal seasonal variation and ‘trading day effects’. A ‘trading day effect’ reflects the varying amounts of activity on different days of the week and the different number of days of the week in any month (i.e. the number of Sundays, Mondays, etc.). This effect may be partly caused by the reporting practices of the lenders. Adjustment is also made for Easter which may affect the March and April estimates differently. Trading day effects are removed from the original estimates prior to the seasonal adjustment process. Seasonal adjustment does not remove the effect of irregular or non-seasonal influences (e.g. a change in interest rates) from the series. For more information on seasonal adjustment in the ABS see Interpreting Time Series.

Lending Indicators uses a concurrent seasonal adjustment methodology to derive the adjustment factors. The method uses the original time series available at each reference period to estimate the seasonal factors for the current and previous quarters. Because concurrent adjustment uses all available data to improve the estimates of the seasonal component each year, seasonally adjusted series are subject to revision.

State component series have been seasonally adjusted independently of the Australian series. The sum of the state components in seasonally adjusted and trend series are therefore unlikely to equal the corresponding Australian totals.

Trend estimates

Smoothing seasonally adjusted series reduces the impact of the irregular component of the seasonally adjusted series and creates trend estimates. These trend estimates are derived by applying a Henderson-weighted moving average to all but the last six months of the respective seasonally adjusted series. Trend series are created for the last six months by applying surrogates of the Henderson moving average to the seasonally adjusted series. For further information, refer to Information Paper: A Guide to Interpreting Time Series-Monitoring Trends.

While the smoothing technique described above enables trend estimates to be produced for the latest few months, it does result in revisions to the trend estimates as new data become available. Generally, revisions become smaller over time and, after three months, usually have an insignificant impact on the series. Changes in the original data and re-estimation of seasonal factors may also lead to revisions to the trend.


Revisions to previously published statistics are included in the publication as they occur. With the change the new EFS collection in October 2019 there is a higher likelihood of revisions as lenders become accustomed to the reporting guidance and instructions, and the seasonal changes become more apparent over time.

Changes in the classification of lenders (e.g. the conversion of a non-ADI to an ADI) are reflected in the Lender series from the month of the change. Data for earlier periods for such lenders are not reclassified.

History of changes

The EFS collection was implemented during 2019, with the reporting forms that are used as a source for Lending Indicators commencing for the July reference period.

Prior to EFS, the collection was sourced from data collected by APRA on forms ARF/RRF 391.0ARF/RRF 392.0ARF/RRF 393.0 and ARF/RRF 394.0 combined with data from some lenders that reported directly to the ABS.

For historical series where there are enough similarities between the old and the new collections, data has been backcast back to 2002. Newly collected data is only available from July 2019.

The historical time series data should be used with caution, particularly lower level series that are more volatile. This data is modelled using the change in reporting observed during July 2019 to September 2019, where the new and old collections were conducted in parallel. Consequently, the historical time series should be viewed as analytical series only to help in interpretation of data reported on the new EFS basis.

The Lending Indicators publication replaces the Lending to Households and Businesses publication which contained data from the prior monthly finance collection. Lending to Households and Businesses was published from December 2018 to September 2019. Prior to December 2018 statistics were published in Housing Finance, Australia and Lending Finance, Australia.

Related products

Other data sources include the APRA Statistics website and the Reserve Bank of Australia's Bulletin. They include a large number of tables of financial statistics, mostly sourced from the ABS and APRA.


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For detailed definitions, please see Reporting Standard ARS 701.0 ABS/RBA Definitions.


Comprises finance where a business buys part (or all) of another business, in order to assume control of the firm.

Alterations, additions and repairs

Means any structural or non-structural change to existing residential property, non-residential buildings or non-building structures.

It includes:

  • repairs and maintenance;
  • structural and non-structural changes to dwellings (e.g. garages, carports, pergolas, re-roofing, re-cladding etc.);
  • structural and non-structural changes to non-residential buildings (e.g. renovations and refits); and
  • non-building work that improves the value of properties with attached dwellings or non-residential buildings (e.g. pools or landscaping).

It excludes:

  • dwelling or non-residential building furnishings not attached to the property. These are included under the appropriate personal or business purpose sub-class;
  • changes to dwellings that result in the creation of new dwelling (e.g. an attached granny-flat). These are included as construction; and
  • conversions from non-residential buildings to dwellings (and vice versa). These are included as construction.

Authorised deposit-taking institutions

Authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs) refers to banks, building societies and credit unions. All other financial institutions in scope of Lending Indicators are non-ADIs.


A borrower-accepted commitment exists for a loan or finance lease once an application has been approved, a loan/finance lease contract or letter of offer has been issued to the borrower, and the borrower has accepted the offer.
For bills, a borrower-accepted commitment occurs when the bill is accepted.
It includes: agreements to increase the credit limit of an existing loan contract (for example, as part of an internal refinance).

Construction (purpose)

Means the creation of new dwellings, non-residential buildings or non-building structures.

For dwellings, it includes:

  • construction of newly erected dwellings;
  • changes to existing dwellings that result in the creation of a new dwelling (e.g. a granny-flat); and
  • conversions from non-residential buildings to dwellings (e.g. a warehouse converted to apartments).

For non-residential building, it includes: conversions from dwellings to non-residential buildings.


A dwelling is a self-contained room or suite of rooms, including cooking and bathing facilities, intended for long-term residential use. A dwelling is private (not generally accessible by the public) and is contained within a building that is an immobile structure. A dwelling may comprise part of a building or the whole of a building.

Existing dwelling

An existing dwelling is one that has been previously occupied.

External refinance

External refinance is a new loan obtained to replace an existing loan that was provided by a different lender.

For housing, it includes refinancing an existing loan for the same residential property.

Finance lease

Finance lease refers to the leasing or hiring of tangible assets under an agreement which transfers substantially all the risks and rewards incidental to the ownership of the asset. Title may or may not eventually be transferred.

First home buyers

First home buyers are borrowers entering the home ownership market for the first time, whether or not they are purchasing a dwelling for owner-occupation or investment purposes.
This includes all borrowers entering the home ownership market for the first time, regardless of whether or not they have received or are eligible for a first-home buyer grant.
If there is more than one party to the loan, a loan is classified as being to a first-home buyer if none of the borrowing parties to the commitment have previously owned a dwelling.
It excludes: internal refinance and external refinance of loans that were originally made to first-home buyers.

Fixed- term loans

Fixed-term loans are loans extended for a fixed period, with a maturity date by which the loan must be repaid. Repayments over the fixed period reduce the loan balance and do not make further finance available.

It includes: redraw facilities attached to fixed-term loans.

It excludes: revolving credit facilities.

Internal refinance

Internal refinance occurs where a new loan is obtained to replace an existing loan that was provided by the original lender and the credit limit has increased from that which was available prior to refinancing; or the credit limit on an existing loan by the lender is increased (e.g. a ‘top-up’). In both cases the funds must be used for substantially the same purpose class as the existing contract.

Investment/Investor (housing loan)

Investment loan is a loan to a household for the purpose of housing, where the funds are used for a residential property that is not owner-occupied.
Where the loan is for a residential property that is different to the residential property against which the loan is secured, this definition refers to the occupation status of the residential property for which the loan has been obtained (not the occupation status of the property used as security).
It includes: holiday/vacation homes and part-time residences that are not the borrower’s or borrowers’ principal place of residence.

Large (business size)

A business is classified as large if it has turnover greater than or equal to $50 million.

Margin lending

Margin lending is the provision of secured loans to investors for the purpose of purchasing financial assets. The purchased assets are generally used as security for the margin loan. The financial assets purchased are usually equities or units in managed funds.

For the purposes of the EFS collection, margin lending facilities may be provided to households or private and public sector businesses.

It includes:

  • fixed term loans; and
  • revolving credit.

Medium (business size)

A business is classified as medium if the lender has a total exposure to the business that is greater than or equal to $1 million and the business has turnover of less than $50 million.

Newly erected dwellings

Refers to a dwelling that has not previously been occupied by a household.

It includes:

  • off-the-plan purchases;
  • dwellings resulting from the conversion of non-residential buildings to dwellings; and
  • dwellings built by property developers speculatively for resale.

It excludes: existing dwellings that have been refurbished or renovated.


Financial institutions that are not Authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs). Non-ADIs are money market corporations such as brokers and finance companies and securitisers.


Off-the-plan dwelling purchases typically require a deposit from the buyer before dwelling construction is completed and usually before construction has commenced. Buyers often obtain in-principal, pre-approval for a home loan for the completed dwelling. In practice, lenders usually value the nearly completed dwelling and make a lending decision based on consideration of circumstances prevailing at that time. The lending commitment associated with off-the-plan dwellings usually eventuates close to the dwelling’s completion which is usually many months after the deposit was paid.

Loans for off-the-plan purchases of dwellings should be categorised as loans for newly erected dwellings and not as loans for construction.

Personal investment

Refers to personal loans to purchase assets that are expected to maintain or increase in value other than housing. It excludes housing for the purposes of investment and margin loans.

Plant and equipment

Plant and equipment means any property, plant and equipment asset that is not property.
Such assets are typically vital to business operations but cannot be easily liquidated.

It includes:

  • road vehicles;
  • other transport vehicles and equipment;
  • construction and earthmoving equipment;
  • agriculture machinery; and
  • electronic data processing and office equipment.


Business purpose means transactions by persons, legal entities or other organisations related to their activities in the production and sale of goods and services for profit. It also includes the transactions of non-profit institution such as community service organisations and transactions by private and public sector businesses.

Housing purpose means transactions by households related to the provision of residential property for use by the household sector. Housing includes transactions to finance or refinance the construction or purchase of newly erected dwellings or existing dwellings, alterations, additions and repairs or to purchase residential land. It includes finance to the household sector.

Personal purpose means transactions by persons within the household sector whose dealings with other sectors are for purposes other than business purposes or housing purposes.

Purchase of property

Comprises both residential and non-residential land, buildings and fixed structures for business purposes.

Revolving credit

Revolving credits are lending facilities that the borrower may repeatedly draw down in part or in full up to an authorised credit limit and repay, any credit drawn, in part or in full, on multiple occasions without the facility being cancelled. Repayments (other than of charges and interest) reduce the borrowings, thereby increasing the amount of unused credit available. It includes facilities with a fixed term that meet the above criteria.

It includes:

  • arranged overdrafts. These are generally an agreed arrangement between a lender and a borrower to extend credit when the balance in an attached transaction account falls below zero;
  • unarranged overdrafts. These refer to the situation when a transaction account holder withdraws an amount greater than the balance of the account leaving a negative balance. The lender usually charges an overdrawn account fee as well as interest on the negative balance, and usually requires the account holder to restore the account’s positive balance;
  • secured and unsecured revolving credit facilities; and
  • reverse mortgages.

It excludes:

  • redraw facilities attached to fixed-term loans; and
  • bill facilities.

Road vehicles

Vehicles that are primarily used on the road, for example cars, trucks, motor vehicles and utes. It excludes attachments such as trailers, semi-trailers.

Small (business size)

A business is classified as small if the lender has an exposure to the business that is less than $1 million and the business has turnover of less than $50 million.

Credit limits

Credit limit is the maximum amount of funds available to the borrower without additional authorisation or approval, including outstanding balances and other funds that can be drawn without additional approval by the lender in this amount.

A non-related party is not a related party, where a related party means a parent entity, controlled entity, joint venture entity and any other entity under the same parent entity.

Wholesale finance

Means finance for the purchase of goods that will then be on-sold.

Working capital

Means a loan used to finance for everyday operations of the business, such as accounts payable and wages

Quality declaration

Institutional environment

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) produces Lending Indicators with data sourced from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). The ABS does the final quality assurance and analysis of all data.

APRA is the independent statutory authority for the prudential regulation of the Australian financial services industry. The authority for APRA to collect data is granted under the Financial Sector (Collection of Data) Act 2001, which established APRA as the national statistical agency for the Australian financial sector. For more information about the roles and responsibilities of the organisation, see the APRA website.

For information on the institutional environment of the ABS, including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


Lending Indicators presents monthly statistics on new commitments by significant Australian lenders for financing households and businesses. It includes:

  • finance commitments for the construction, purchase, refinancing of, and alterations to owner occupied and investment dwellings;
  • personal finance commitments;
  • fixed finance commitments to businesses, and
  • lease finance commitments to businesses.

Depending on the category of counterparty and loan purpose, these commitments may be classified by:

  • state and territory;
  • major banks, other Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs) and non-ADIs;
  • first home buyer (owner occupier and investor).

It is important to note the distinction between a financing commitment and actual financing activity. For example, housing finance commitments are not a direct measure of financing, sales or construction in the residential dwelling market. A commitment exists once the home loan application has been approved, and a loan contract or letter of offer has been issued to the borrower, and the borrower has accepted the offer. A commitment to lend will only happen after the property has been found and valued and mortgage insurance arranged (where relevant). The actual advancement of funds may not occur in the same month or necessarily at all.


Lending Indicators is released monthly, 28 working days after the end of the reference month.


The data published in lending indicators does not represent all new loan commitments in Australia. To reduce reporting burden on smaller lenders, the collection only aims to capture those lenders that contribute to 95% of total housing, personal and business credit outstanding as reported on the ABS/RBA Loans and Finance Leases Reporting standard (ARS 720.1).

Lending Indicators has no sampling error since it does not select providers to be in sample but tries to enumerate all providers in scope that meet the specified coverage. Lending Indicators also has low non-response rates. As with all surveys, Lending Indicators does have non-sampling error arising from inaccuracies in collection, recording and processing. Every effort is made to minimise non-sampling errors by the careful design of questionnaires, contact with providers and efficient data processing procedures.

Revisions to previously published statistics are included in the publication as they occur.

The Explanatory notes has more detail on scope and coverage.


The Economic and Financial Statistics (EFS) collection was implemented from July 2019 to improve the reliability and accuracy of the data collected. Where new concepts under the EFS collection were sufficiently similar to those previously published, the ABS has produced historic series back to July 2002 (i.e. a backcast series) to help with historical analysis and comparability of data. For more detail please see Information paper: Upcoming changes to Lending to Households and Businesses, Australia.

Prior to the commencement of the EFS collection the following changes to forms and reporting requirements:


  • APRA took responsibility for data collection from regulated entities on behalf of the ABS. A small number of unregulated entities continued to report direct to the ABS.

December 2018:

  • Lending to Households and Businesses replaced two separate publications: Housing Finance and Lending Finance.

July 2019:

  • The Economic and Financial Statistics (EFS) data collection reporting was implemented.

December 2019:

  • Lending Indicators replaced Lending to Households and Businesses with reported data from EFS for the first time.

Occasionally a financial institution may change its institution type, for example, from a non-ADI to an ADI. The reclassification caused by such a change is reflected in the month it occurs, and earlier periods are not revised.


Statistics are generally provided in trend, seasonally adjusted and original terms. The trend series smooths out the volatility in the data including removing seasonal effects (such as the number of trading days and moving holidays), and is therefore considered the best indicator of underlying movements. The seasonally adjusted series removes the seasonal effects but does not smooth out the volatility in the data. The original series neither removes the seasonal effects nor smooths out the volatility in the data.

Both seasonal and trend estimates, by their nature, are subject to revisions over time. In most instances, the larger revisions will be to the previous month and the same month a year ago. For more information regarding seasonal adjustment and trend series, please see Time Series Analysis Frequently Asked Questions.

Definitions are listed in the Glossary.


Enquiries can be made through the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by email to client.services@abs.gov.au. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

Other data sources include the APRA Statistics website and the Reserve Bank of Australia's Bulletin. They include a large number of tables of financial statistics, mostly sourced from the ABS and APRA.


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$bbillion (thousand million) dollars
$mmillion dollars
ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ADIAuthorised Deposit-taking Institution
APRAAustralian Prudential Regulation Authority
EFSEconomic and Financial Statistics
RBAReserve Bank of Australia
RFCRegistered Financial Corporation
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