More Australians are falling behind in their mortgage repayments as interest rates continue to climb.
Data from Standard & Poor's Rating Services showed that the share of late-paying borrowers as a proportion of residential backed mortgage securities rose to 1.48 per cent in February from 1.39 per cent in January, and 1.25 per cent in December.
The Reserve Bank raised interest rates by 25 basis points in February, as part of a tightening cycle aimed at containing inflation and keeping the economy's growth on track. The RBA raised interest rates again this month, taking them to 4.5 per cent from 4.25 per cent. Credit markets are currently divided about a possible rate move next month, but foresee higher rates within a year.
''Borrowers in more severe arrears may find it more challenging to restore their position in a rising interest rate environment,'' Standard & Poor's credit analyst Vera Chaplin said.
Since October, the rate rises have added about $300 a month to the average monthly repayment cost on a $300,000, 25-year loan. In March, the Melbourne Institute Savings Report showed that more than half of the 14.4 per cent households that consider themselves "financially stressed" were employed and those on a household income of more than $80,000 were ''the most financially stressed out of all income groups''.
Fujitsu Consulting said about 250,000 people have entered the housing market over the past 18 months, lured by low interest rates and government stimulus.
Standard and Poor's Ms Chaplin said that arrears in RMBS – used by banks to repackage their mortgage debt and on-sell it to institutional clients - will remain in the higher range as interest rates increase and borrowers struggle to adjust.
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