ANZ Property Focus assesses the state of the property market in New Zealand, providing investors and prospective homeowners with an independent appraisal of recent developments.
January 2016: Baton change to the regions (PDF 212kB)
The RBNZ left the OCR on hold, but noted that rates may move lower in 2016. We are not seeing enough to justify a further easing in policy but the risks are obvious. December REINZ data showed some modest recoil, with the Auckland housing market considerably less buoyant than prior to the introduction of regulatory changes in October, whilst markets in other regions are heating up, supported by historically low mortgage interest rates, relaxed LVR criteria and the “ripple’ impact of earlier Auckland house price strength. Dwelling construction activity is strengthening, but booming net immigration implies a moving target for housing demand. Credit growth has followed the housing market and households are re-leveraging, although mortgage approvals look to have plateaued.
December 2015: The worm has turned (PDF 404kB)
The RBNZ has cut the OCR by 100bps this year, returning the cash rate to record lows. While the bias is still to lower rates yet, there are now upside risks to be mindful of too, with the economic outlook more balanced. Less pressure to cut means 1 and 2 year fixed rates could nudge up over coming months. November REINZ data showed a further regulation-related impact on Auckland housing activity and prices, but showed the wider regions are being supported by historically low mortgage interest rates, and last month’s relaxation in non-Auckland LVR restrictions by the RBNZ. Dwelling construction is trending up, but booming net immigration makes the number of new dwellings required a moving target. Credit growth has followed the housing market and households are re-leveraging off already high debt levels, although mortgage approvals growth is slowing.
November 2015: Crystal ball gazing (PDF 160kB)
Governor Wheeler has effectively ruled out OCR hikes to counter housing market strength, but the RBNZ has acknowledged they are very mindful of housing excesses and are now also watching some regional housing markets more closely. October sales figures, however, showed that regulatory changes intended to slow investor demand are impacting, with a regionally broad-based fall in sales activity and lower annual house price inflation. The hope is that such measures will provide more time for the lift in dwelling supply to deliver greater balance to the Auckland market in particular, but with net immigration inflows still booming, this is a moving target. Credit growth has followed the housing market and households are re-leveraging off already high debt levels.
October 2015: Borrowed money and borrowed time (PDF 136kB)
An increased RBNZ toolkit has provided more options for addressing housing market buoyancy, but Governor Wheeler reminded markets that OCR settings are not completely divorced from housing market developments. Despite the pending introduction of measures to clamp down on investor demand, the property market continues to dance to its own tune, with sales volumes at an 8-year high and annual house price inflation at an 11-year high. Net immigration inflows remain strong, but housing supply is responding, with annual Auckland residential consent issuance the highest level in more than a decade. Credit growth has firmed, but the easing off in mortgage approvals signals a pending housing market lull.
September 2015: Topping out (PDF 208kB)
The Reserve Bank cut the Official Cash Rate by a further 25bps to 2.75% in September and maintained an easing bias. Despite the economy slowing and affordability stretched, the property market continues to dance to its own tune, with sales volumes and the days to sell at their strongest in eight years. Annual house price inflation has hit an eleven-year high, with the top of the North Island leading the charge. Net immigration inflows remain very strong. After a period of disappointingly flat issuance, residential consent issuance surged in July, to the highest level since April 2008. With the gain again led by Auckland, this is exactly the supply response officials are hoping to see. Credit growth has firmed, but the easing off in mortgage approvals signals a pending housing market lull.
August 2015: A look at the regions (PDF 160kB)
Sales volumes, the median days to sell and annual house price inflation in July were all the strongest since 2007, with sales activity in the upper North Island strengthening. The RBNZ stated that interest rate rises would not be appropriate to dampen the Auckland market, but that speed limits to slow investor demand in Auckland will be here in November. Nationwide residential consent issuance (supply) has essentially flat-lined over the first half of this year, although the growth baton is clearly in northern hands. Record net immigration and low mortgage rates are key supports for now. Construction has flat-lined and is low relative to population needs. Household credit growth has picked up and is running ahead of household incomes.
July 2015: A tale of two cities (PDF 156kB)
The RBNZ cut the OCR by another 25bps to 3% and signalled that some further easing is likely. Given the softening growth picture, poor outlook for the terms of trade and low inflation environment, a lower cash rate is justified and we expect the OCR to fall to 2.5% by early next year. REINZ data showed annual nationwide house price inflation firming to an eight year high, with high Auckland house price inflation contrasting with falling prices in Canterbury; the former has a shortage of houses and the latter an emerging excess. Record net immigration and low mortgage rates are key supports, although we expect pending changes to LVR policy and property taxation to weigh on Auckland investor demand. Construction has flat-lined and is low relative to population needs, curtailing the supply-side. Household credit picked up and household debt to income has now hit a new all-time high.
June 2015: Trend versus the cycle (PDF 208kB)
The RBNZ cut the OCR by 25bps and signalled at least one further cut to offset the expected weakening in demand from the lower terms of trade and to ensure inflation climbs back to the middle of its target range. The Auckland housing market is currently running hot, with REINZ data showing annual house price inflation in the region at a 19-year high, supported by record net immigration and low fixed mortgage rates. There are fears that an OCR cut will provide an unwelcome boost to Auckland prices, but we expect that pending changes to the LVR speed limit policy and the Government tax initiatives for investors will help bring greater balance to the Auckland property market.
May 2015: Joining forces (PDF 148kB)
The RBNZ and the Government have combined forces to rein in investor demand in the Auckland property market via a tightening of the LVR speed limits and changes to taxation. Auckland annual house price inflation rose to an 11-year high last month, supported by record net migration and low fixed mortgage rates. The pace of dwelling supply rebounded, but remains low relative to population needs. Household credit growth picked up, but remains bounded by income growth so far. Low inflation and a deteriorating risk profile across the economy looks set to be matched by a lower OCR.
April 2015: Throwing down the gauntlet (PDF 132kB)
The RBNZ has thrown down the gauntlet and called for broader policy action, including a capital gains tax, to address what it perceives as growing financial stability risks from an overheating Auckland property market. REINZ data shows Auckland annual house price inflation hitting an 11 year high. The pace of dwelling supply growth is slowing. Strong net immigration inflows and low fixed mortgage interest rates are providing impetus to the market. Household credit growth has started to pick up. Low inflation tilts the balance of risks towards an OCR cut, although the RBNZ is likely to hold the OCR for the time being.
March 2015: Pressure building (PDF 188kB)
Residential building activity is trending up, but this has not been sufficient to materially dent housing shortages, with high rates of annual house price inflation in Auckland prevalent. Strong net immigration inflows and low fixed mortgage interest rates are providing impetus to the market. Household credit growth has started to pick up, but remains bounded by income growth. The RBNZ is looking at supplementary measures to address housing market buoyancy, with the message from the March MPS being a period of stability in OCR settings.
February 2015: Third wind (PDF 156kB)
While house sales eased in January, the underlying picture remains strong, with the average days to sell down and prices up. Building consents are trending up but the pace is still not sufficient to materially dent the Auckland-centric shortage. Migration inflows remain strong. Credit growth has started to pick up, but households are still deleveraging; credit growth is not outstripping income growth (yet). The RBNZ is on hold, weighing up competing issues: a wobbly global scene, a still-high NZD, and housing market strength. Inflation is low so they can afford to be patient
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