Cheap cars drive new high in lease finance

Christian Edwards
(Australian Associated Press)

Lease financing jumped in December to hit its highest level in more than 16 years, as Australians cashed in on low car prices and flexible payment options.

Total new lending commitments, which takes in housing, personal and commercial loans and lease finance, dropped 4.4 per cent in December to $70.8 billion, after the largest rise in almost three years in November, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.

Commercial loans fell 6.2 per cent to $42.8 billion and personal finance loans fell 4.9 per cent to $6 billion, while lease finance jumped 8.3 per cent to $591 million, the highest volume since 2002 in rolling annual dollar terms, according to CommSec.

Lease financing allows a financier to purchase a vehicle on a borrowers behalf and then lease it back at a fixed monthly payment.

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said Australians have a conservative attitude towards taking on more debt, but lease loans have risen to 16 year highs.

“Car prices are at 30-year lows and car sales are at record highs,” Mr Felsman said.

“Aussies appear to be taking advantage of cheap cars, potential tax benefits and flexible payment terms to lease new vehicles or equipment.”

The total value of home loans to owner occupiers fell one per cent to $21.1 billion in December, seasonally adjusted.


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