Mining downturn adds to mortgage stress

Melissa Jenkins
(Australian Associated Press)

Western Australia is driving a nationwide rise in Aussies falling behind on home loan repayments.

The percentage of home loans in arrears has surged 40 per cent in WA, from 1.5 per cent of mortgages in December 2015 to 2.1 per cent a year later, a report by global ratings agency Standard & Poor’s shows.

The report looks only at loans in Australian residential mortgage-backed securities transactions, which account for about five per cent of all outstanding home loans, but are considered representative of the broader market.

The resource dependent states of WA and Queensland are home to eight of the 10 postcodes with the greatest portion of home loans in arrears in Australia, the S&P report said.

“Higher unemployment, lower wage growth, and falling property prices are creating mortgage stress in WA, as evidenced by the state’s higher arrears,” Standard & Poor’s said.

The agency said it does not expect the recent rise in commodity prices to significantly boost investment or employment in the resources sector.

“This means higher arrears in WA are likely to persist for some time, as the downturn in mining investment continues to take effect,” it said.

NSW (0.86 per cent) and Victoria (1.08 per cent) had lower rates of mortgage arrears, helping to offset the higher rates experienced in states with more exposure to resources.

The national level of mortgages more than 30 days in arrears was 1.15 per cent in December, up from 1.14 per cent in September.

That is well below the historical peak of 1.69 per cent, and it is normal for the percentage of loans in arrears to rise in the last quarter of a year, Standard & Poor’s said.

POSTCODES WITH HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF MORTGAGES IN ARREARS

1. Ballaroo, Qld – 6.23 per cent

2. Alexandria, Qld – 5.42 per cent

3. Butler, WA – 5.12 per cent

4. Armstrong Beach, Qld – 5.07 per cent

5. Whyalla Norrie, SA – 4.91 per cent

6. Jimboomba, Qld – 4.71 per cent

7. Bucasia, Qld – 4 per per cent

8. Kurunjang, Vic – 3.99 per cent

9. Bayswater, WA – 3.99 per cent

10. Alexandra, Qld – 3.98 per cent

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