The wider Australian market has “sound fundamentals”, according to Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer. He used the bank’s annual report to dismiss claims that Australian property is over-valued.


“There is no doubt housing prices are strong in some markets, but we do not subscribe to the view that we are in a bubble,” he said. “That’s because we believe the economics of Australian housing are sound.


“We are seeing genuine demand for housing that has consistently exceeded supply from investors and owner-occupiers. It is only recently that we have seen an increase in building activity to help match demand.”


Hartzer says there has been no easing in credit standards. “We continue to lend to those people who have the capacity to repay and the standards by which we measure that capacity have not relaxed,” he said. “In fact we tightened our lending criteria in a number of areas this year.


“So, overall, we see the housing market as rational, with sound fundamentals. Of course, that does not mean we will not see stress in selected pockets.”