Improved access to finance and lower interest rates are helping households get into real estate, with the number of new loans approved in July rising almost 4% to $32.24 billion.

Lending to owner-occupiers (excluding refinancing) rose 5.3% in July, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

Refinancing of existing home loans also increased by 5.4% as homeowners look to get the best value for money, as lenders compete by offering attractive interest rate deals.

Property analyst CoreLogic’s head of Australian research, Tim Lawless, says the findings are expected but the pace of growth is surprising.

“We haven’t seen monthly numbers of this magnitude since 2016 for investors and 2015 for owner-occupiers,” Lawless says. “It’s an indication that all the