A global ratings agency has reduced its credit rating for 23 lenders due to “an increased risk of a sharp correction in property prices”.
The reason a housing crash is now more likely is because there has been a rise in “economic imbalances” caused by “strong growth in private sector debt and residential property prices in the past four years”, according to S&P.
If a crash did occur, lenders would probably suffer “significantly greater credit losses” than at present.
These losses would be “amplified by the Australian economy’s external weaknesses, in particular its persistent current account deficits and high level of external debt”.
Lenders should be alert but not alarmed
S&P said that although risks have increased, the outlook for Australian banks remains “relatively benign” by global standards – partly because APRA, the banking regulator, has been acting to remove risk from the banking sector.
“We consider that recent and possible further actions by the Australian authorities should aid in an unwinding of the imbalances in an orderly fashion, as has generally been the case in the past several cycles in Australia – and may have already started in Sydney and Melbourne,” S&P said.
“This is most likely to occur through slower growth – or even a mild drop – in property prices over the next two years, without causing any significant increase in credit losses incurred by the Australian banks.”
Lenders with unchanged ratings
Lenders with changed ratings
|Lender||Old rating||New rating|
|Australian Central Credit Union||BBB+||BBB|
|Bank of Queensland||A-||BBB+|
|Bendigo & Adelaide Bank||A-||BBB+|
|Community CPS Australia||BBB+||BBB|
|Credit Union Australia||BBB+||BBB|
|Fisher & Paykel Finance||BB||BB-|
|G&C Mutual Bank||BBB||BBB-|
|Newcastle Permanent Building Society||BBB+||BBB|
|Teachers Mutual Bank||BBB+||BBB|
S&P ratings range from AAA to D. Click here for an explanation of the system.