PIC: Aerial view of Brisbane Terrace and Layard St Goodna near the peak of the Brisbane River flood on Wednesday 12 January 2011 with the historic Royal Mail Hotel visible near the top centre of the picture.
More than 1,000 home owners are struggling to repay their mortgages after cyclones and flooding wreaked havoc across Queensland, a major mortgage insurer says.
Glenworth Financial, which issues lenders mortgage insurance, has reported a 70 per cent rise in "hardship applications" over the last quarter, with Queensland residents accounting for the majority of claims.
Glenworth chief executive Ellie Comerford said the aftermath of floods across the east coast and bushfires in Western Australia was causing "great concern".
"They are really impacting on the overall consumer sentiment in terms of confidence and outlook," Ms Comerford said on Wednesday.
"As a consequence of this, Genworth has seen in the last quarter over a 70 per cent increase in what we call hardship applications for borrowers and this is predominantly because of the natural disasters."
"In fact, as recently as today we've now gone over the 1,000 mark in terms of hardship applications that are coming from natural disasters, and most of those are coming from Queensland."
Her comments come as Genworth released its six-monthly Homebuyer Confidence Index (HCI), which measures borrower and would-be borrower sentiment.
The index fell 1.5 per cent since September 2010, its second fall since the index was launched last year.
Ms Comerford attributed the fall to decreased confidence in the disaster-affected regions of Queensland and Western Australia as well as concern among homebuyers about rising living costs and higher interest rates.
The report found one in five borrowers affected by natural disasters don't expect to recover over the next six months.
Borrowers in Queensland and Western Australia were the primary drivers behind the fall in the national index, with Queenslanders being hit the hardest.
More than half of the increase in hardship requests was disaster-related, she said.
While it was difficult to tell whether the number of people experiencing financial hardship would increase or stabilise over the next year, it was clear borrowers were primarily worried about rising cost of living pressures.
She added there was a recent move towards first home buyers applying for mortgages valued at 95 per cent of the home value.
"We're gradually seeing some uptake with that, but we're not seeing the overwhelming uptake that we had pre-GFC (global financial crisis)," she said.
As well, retail Finance Intelligence research director Alan Shields said there was now a "splitting of confidence" among disaster-affected and non-disaster affected homebuyers as house prices continued to rise.
"On the one hand, you'll have people affected by disasters dragging down that confidence," he said.
"On the other hand, the people with a mortgage that haven't been affected, who aren't seeing their rates go up, their confidence is going to be maintained, if not going up a little bit."