The net worth of Australian households stood at $8.8912 trillion as at the end of the June quarter, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday.
That’s a 2.7% increase in just three months, or $231.5 billion. Not bad, not bad at all.
The ABS reports that land and dwellings drove holding gains over the quarter, gaining $112.2 billion to $6.0139 trillion.
And most of that increase was due to higher house prices.
Household residential land and dwellings grew by 2.4%, or $131.9 billion, to $5.7373 trillion.
“This strong growth in residential land and dwelling assets followed subdued growth in the previous two quarters,” noted the ABS.
Along with the boost provided by higher house prices, gains in financial markets — courtesy in part to central bank policy globally — saw net wealth from financial assets also increase.
“Financial assets contributed $90.8 billion in holding gains in June quarter 2016, driven by valuation increases in insurance technical reserves (superannuation) of $86.3 billion,” said the ABS.
According to the ABS, the value of household financial assets stood at $4.4435 trillion at June 30 this year.
On the other side of the ledger, household liabilities — essentially debt — also increased, albeit by a smaller margin.
It stood at $2.2386 billion, up from $2.1948 billion at the end of the March quarter. As a percentage of GDP, household debt now stands at 123%.
“While both household assets and liabilities grew during June quarter 2016, stronger growth in assets resulted in 2.7% growth in household net worth,” the ABS said.
Here’s how the collective balance sheet of Australian households looked at the end of the quarter, courtesy of the ABS.
And here’s how household debt levels compare to the value of its financial assets, both for mortgage debt to residential land and dwellings assets and total debt to assets.
While household debt levels as a percentage of GDP are high compared to other advanced economies, it’s clear that based on current valuations, household gearing remains low, even with a recent acceleration in lending.
There’s a lot of buffer already built in to household balance sheets, albeit driven largely by limited market turnover, primarily in residential housing.