Ultra-low interest rates and regional Queensland’s booming property markets have been significant drivers for Queensland Country Bank to achieve a record breaking month with over $74 million in loan approvals during October and delivering over $51 million in loans funded.
Queensland Country Bank Chief Executive Officer Aaron Newman says the record breaking lending month, which includes home, car and personal loans, is particularly indicative of what is happening in the regional Queensland property market and economy.
“The vast majority of home loans we’ve funded are in regional Queensland, where property markets are performing strongly as a result of ultra-low interest rates,” he says.
“Property prices in metro areas are significantly higher, and as a result, we’re seeing the affordability issue driving net migration into regional Queensland.
“We’re also noticing a change in spending habits during the pandemic, which has enabled people to save for their loan deposit quicker than they might have otherwise.”
Mr Newman says the government led First Home Loan Deposit Scheme has been very effective in helping young Australians get into the property market. The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation saves borrowers upwards of $10,000, requiring just a 5% deposit and no lenders mortgage insurance under the scheme.
“Not all financial institutions chose to apply to be a Participating Lender in this scheme, whereas Queensland Country has been successful helping many young people buy their first home because of our genuine interest in supporting first home buyers,” he says.
“First home buyers predominately want to come into a branch to see an expert, and we provide that personalised advice and service to support them through the process.
“We have supported these buyers with over $150m in home loans provided in the past 12 months, and because not all the major banks were participating lenders in the scheme, it has opened Queensland Country Bank up to a consumer market who may not have considered us before.”
The record breaking month comes as Queensland Country Bank celebrates their fiftieth year. Mr Newman says the organisation’s financial strength has ensured they were well placed to capitalise on the market conditions.
“The organisation is having its strongest year ever in its fifty years; we’ve more than doubled lending volumes over the last 12 months,” he says.
“Since transitioning from a credit union to a member-owned bank in early 2020, we’ve continued to make Member services a priority, and we now have more branches in regional Queensland than some of the major banks.
“We’ve expanded into business banking, which has resonated with businesses in regional Queensland who are looking for access to that expertise and face to face services, and that has further bolstered our lending capabilities.”
The record number of loan approvals indicates that the remainder of the calendar year looks to continue strongly for the bank.
“The loan approvals provide a strong lead indicator for future funding of house settlements or new vehicle purchases,” say Mr Newman.
“Lending is a key measure and core function of our business, so us achieving high lending volumes shows Members are engaged with us and trust us.
“Because we’re member-owned, everything we do is aligned with our values of putting people first, and I think consumers are starting to notice the benefits a mutual bank can provide and look beyond the traditional major banks for their lending needs.
“Through our strength of brand and value proposition, we’ve been able to capitalise on regional Queensland’s property boom successfully, and we’re delighted to play a role in helping our Members achieve their financial goals.”