Pearson - Always learning

All your resources for Economics

RSS icon Subscribe | Text size

Posts Tagged ‘mortgage rates’

The housing market: an Australian case study of demand and supply

Many countries have experienced soaring house prices in recent years. To find out why, you need to look at demand and supply.

Low mortgage interest rates and more relaxed lending rules in the last couple of years have stimulated demand. In some countries, such as the UK, demand has been further boosted by governments providing increased help to buyers. In others, various tax breaks are given to house purchasers.

Typically the rise in demand has not been matched by an equivalent rise in supply. Social house building has slowed in many countries and building for private purchase has often be hampered by difficulties in obtaining appropriate land or getting planning permission.

The articles linked below look at the situation in Australia. Here too house prices have been soaring. Over the past 30 years they have grown by 7.25% per year – way above the growth in incomes. As the second article below states:

So expensive are homes becoming that the share of median household income devoted to mortgage payments for Australians aged 35 to 44 has more than doubled in 30 years. Incredibly, it’s happened at a time when mortgage rates have slid to their lowest on record.

But why? Again, to understand this it is necessary to look at demand and supply.

Strong population growth combined with easy availability of mortgage loans, low interest rates and tax breaks for both owner occupiers and property investors have stoked demand, while new building has lagged behind. As far as investors are concerned, any shortfall of rental income over mortgage payments (known as negative gearing) can be offset against tax – and then there is still the capital gain to be made from any increase in the property’s price.

But in some Australian towns and cities, price rises have started to slow down or even fall. This may be due to a fall in demand. For example, in Perth, the ending of the commodity boom has led to a fall in demand for labour in the mining areas; mine workers often live in Perth and fly up to the mining areas for shifts of a week or more. The fall in demand for labour has led to a fall in demand for housing.

House price changes are amplified by speculation. People rush to buy houses when they think house prices will rise, further pushing up prices. Landlords do the same. This speculation fuels the price rises. Speculation also amplifies price falls, with people with houses to sell keen to sell them quickly before prices fall further. Potential purchasers, including property investors, hold back, waiting for prices to fall.

Articles
House prices are surging because of low supply – it’s Economics 101 The Guardian, Stephen Koukoulas (27/10/16)
Who’s to blame for rising house prices? We are, actually. Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Martin (27/10/16)
The Price of Australia’s Real Estate Boom The New York Times, A. Odysseus Patrick (17/10/16)
Solutions beyond supply to the housing affordability problem The Conversation, Nicole Gurran (24/10/16)

Data
Residential Property Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities Australian Bureau of Statistics (20/9/16)

Questions

  1. Identify the specific demand factors that have driven house price rises in Australia.
  2. How are the price elasticities of demand and supply relevant to explaining house price rises? Use a diagram to illustrate your analysis.
  3. What determines the rate of increase in house prices?
  4. Explain what is meant by ‘negative gearing’. How is the tax treatment of negative gearing relevant to the property market?
  5. What are the arguments for and against giving tax breaks for house purchase?
  6. Why are rising prices seen as politically desirable by politicians?
  7. What practical steps could a government (central or local) take to increase the supply of housing? Would such steps always be desirable?
  8. Does speculation always amplify house price changes? Explain.
  9. How are house prices related to inequality?
Share in top social networks!

Mortgage rationing

Throughout the credit crunch and since then, one of the major problems in the global economy has been a lack of lending by banks. A key cause of the credit crunch and many of the debt problems countries and people face today is because of people living off borrowed money. In the past, credit was so easy to obtain – people could receive a mortgage for more than 100% of the value of their property. However, when more and more people began to struggle to make their monthly mortgage repayments, the banking crisis began and since then mortgage lenders have become increasingly wary about who they lend to and how much.

The Bank of England has said that in the coming months it will become even harder to obtain mortgages, as banks become increasingly wary about who becomes their customer and potential home buyers put off even applying for a mortgage. Although mortgage approvals are at a 2-year high, they still remain significantly below their pre-crisis level. Indeed, the Bank of England said:

“Lenders expected the proportion of total loan applications being approved to fall over the coming quarter with some lenders commenting that they had revised down expectations for households’ disposable incomes and hence the affordability of taking out new secured loans.”

As part of this new rationing of mortgages, lenders are requiring applicants to put down larger and larger deposits and so for first time buyers, getting on to the property ladder is becoming more and more of a dream. The property market has been suffering from this mortgage rationing as house sales are down below their pre-crisis level. The housing market is crucial to any economy, as so many other sectors and hence jobs depend on it. If mortgages remain scarce and the required deposit so high, the UK housing market is likely to remain stagnant and this will certainly prove damaging for the prospects of the UK economy in 2012.

Articles
Mortgage approvals hit new two-year high The Telegraph, Angela Monaghan (4/1/12)
Mortgage approvals up but overall lending weak Reuters (4/11/12)
Mortgage rationing becomes worse, Bank of England says BBC News (5/1/12)
Mortgage demand fell in Q4 2011, say lenders Mortgage Strategy, Tessa Norman (5/11/12)
Mortgage lending still stagnant, Bank figures show BBC News (4/11/12)
BoE: Lending to be tighter in Q1 2012 Mortgage Introducer, Yuan Phoon (5/11/12)

Data
Lending to Individuals Bank of England

Questions

  1. Why are mortgages being rationed?
  2. Why is the housing market so important for the UK economy?
  3. Which other sectors of the economy employ people whose jobs are dependent on a buoyant housing market?
  4. Why has the Bank of England said that in the coming months it will become harder to get a mortgage?
  5. Why would increased mortgage lending be a much needed stimulus for the UK economy?
  6. Using an aggregate demand and aggregate supply diagram, show how rationing of mortgages and other loans will affect the UK economy.
Share in top social networks!