Forced End of “Ponzi-Like Leverage” & “Fraudulent Lending” Turns Australia’s House Price Bubble into “Property Bloodbath”

Thursday, February 21, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Wolf Richter
WolfStreet.com
Feb 20, 2019

What banks & housing markets in Sydney and Melbourne are facing in 2019.
As investors are fleeing Australia’s housing bust, sales of new houses have plunged to record lows, and home prices in the Sydney and Melbourne metros have dropped 12% and 9% from their respective peaks in mid and late 2017. Combined, the two metros account for about two-thirds of residential property value in Australia. A two-decade-long housing boom, interrupted by only a few minor dips, led to two of the most magnificent housing bubbles in the world, and they’re not “plateauing” or anything.

The over-ripe bubble was pricked not by rising interest rates – the Reserve Bank of Australia’s policy rate remains at record low – but when bank regulators finally started to crack down on some of the bank-lending shenanigans required to inflate that kind of bubble, and when the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (RC) was established in December 2017 to investigate those shenanigans and then started “revealing an epidemic of crime.”

“The financial regulators, APRA and ASIC, have now been sufficiently embarrassed by the findings of the RC to force banks to adhere to responsible lending obligations,” writes Lindsay David, of LF Economics, in a report on the headwinds that the market and the banks face in 2019. The regulatory crackdown “restricts lenders’ ability to conduct business as usual,” he says, and this has “resulted in a credit squeeze.”

Speculative investors who purchased more recently have been impacted the most. Some of them may try to sell either because they fear further price drops, or because they “have been caught out in the tsunami of IO [Interest-Only] loan resets.” But selling at survivable prices will be tough, as buyers at those prices have evaporated, “primarily due to stricter loan serviceability requirements,” as a result of the regulator crackdown, writes Lindsay David who has for years been warning about mortgage fraud and the now unfolding housing bust in Australia.

The Rest…HER

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