The runaway Australian housing boom showed another sign of slowing with loans to investors climbing at the slowest pace in six months.
Home loans to landlords rose 0.6% in March from February, the weakest rate since September, according to data from the Reserve Bank of Australia Friday.
Annual growth at 7.1% was still the fastest in 13 months.
The monthly slowdown should be music to the ears of regulators that flagged financial stability risks and moved in to weed out risky lending. The data also comes a day after research firm CoreLogic said Sydney home values were set to post a fall in April for the first time since December 2015.
Banks have raised interest rates on investor and interest-only loans this year in response to a regulatory crackdown.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority last month directed banks to limit the flow of new interest-only lending to 30% of total new residential mortgage lending, as well as placing strict internal limits on the volume of interest-only lending loan-to-value ratios. It also urged banks to to restrain lending growth in higher risk segments and apply prudent buffers in assessing loan eligibility.
The 30% limit on interest-only loans, which are favoured by investors, compares to about 40% of all new mortgages now, a level that APRA said was quite high by international and historical standards.
Lending for housing investment soared by 4.2% to $13.784 billion in January, the largest monthly total since May 2015, according to government statistics last month.
The figure was 27.5% higher than the levels of a year earlier, and was the strongest growth since January 2015, the data showed.