AFG, Australia’s largest mortgage broker, processed more home loans last month than in any January before, according to new figures published today. 

AFG’s Mortgage Index shows that, despite natural disasters in QLD and NSW, the company processed $2.2bn in home loans, 24% more than in January 2012. 

AFG has 10% of the total mortgage market and trends in its Mortgage Index usually foreshadow ABS figures by roughly six weeks. 

Driving demand were strong levels of activity in WA and NSW. 

In WA, mortgage volumes were somewhat higher than in NSW ($583m compared to $569m) with a variety of buyer types including first home buyers, upgraders and investors. 

AFG general manager of sales and operations Mark Hewitt said the result reflected a growing sense of optimism. 

“Borrowers seem to be responding to the combination of a more positive, global economic outlook, lower rates and enhanced affordability,” he said. 

Hewitt added that the figures build on other statistics published recently that show increasing activity in property markets. 

Hewitt also speculated that the results could have been even higher if not for NSW’s withdrawal of first homebuyer grants for established properties last year. 

“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that first home buyer activity in Queensland and NSW is only one third of the long-term AFG average of around 15% of all home loans processed,” he said.