ANZ leads Australia’s home loans market as class action case looms

With nearly AUD 3.8 billion issued in housing loans last month, National Australia Bank (NAB) and ANZ continue to dominate Australia’s home lending market – whilst simultaneously edging out their rivals.

At the same time, Westpac can be seen to be lagging behind the broader market.

The assessments have been made by investment bank Nomura; based on monthly figures issued by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Nomura analyst Victor German has noted even with its smaller growth, Westpac appears to be more aggressive on pricing – meaning a regain in momentum may be imminent.

German continued that a nation-wide appetite for low-interest borrowing is improving the housing credit sector.

However, business credit growth remains fragile – with October figures outlining a small decline.

The figures

Whilst the overall mortgage market grew 5.5% in 2013, Westpac’s mortgage grew a mere 1.8%.

Commonwealth Bank just tipped the overall market with 5.8% growth, whilst NAB grew a hefty 6.9%.

At 7.1%, ANZ has grown the fastest, though the impending class action case against the bank could foretell tough times for the bank.

ANZ class action

Whilst ANZ grows slightly ahead of its big-bank rivals this month, the figures come at a time when the bank faces a class action case worth a reported AUD 57 million.

Involving 43,500 ANZ customers, the three week hearing is deciding whether its fees – which climbed to AUD 45 over issues such as late payment – are fair and proportionate to the actual costs.

ANZ is currently vigorously defending itself to the public – arguing it is entitled to impose these fees upon customers.

It has however stated it will not provide the press with a “running commentary”.

However, the lawyers leading the nation’s largest ever consumer class action case say Australia’s banks collected around AUD 5 billion in such fees over a six year period, before public pressure in 2008 and 2009 led NAB to begin a drop in fees.

Investment Manager James Middleweek from class action funder IMF has noted as NAB no longer imposes such fees – and now ANZ only charges about AUD 6 due to consumer pressure – it would be hard for the bank to justify its previous fees.

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