Auckland starts to cool

By Jonno Ingerson

Total number of sales is much lower, a reflection of increased unaffordability as well as rising mortgage interest rates. Photo / Getty Images
Total number of sales is much lower, a reflection of increased unaffordability as well as rising mortgage interest rates. Photo / Getty Images

By now you are probably well aware that the Auckland property market is cooling down.

The Reserve Bank's latest lending restrictions are the main cause, combined with most banks pulling back even harder.

To get a sense for how much the Auckland market is cooling, the number of sales in February 2017 was the lowest for any February since 1993.

Lower even than during the recession of 2008/2009 that followed the global financial crisis.

This low level of sales was something we predicted based on our measure of demand, which has been rapidly slowing over the last few months.

When sales volumes fall, so do values. Auckland values have dropped by just under 1 per cent since late last year.

That's a significant change from mid last year when values were increasing at over 6 per cent each quarter.

Given that the Reserve Bank lending restrictions were particularly hard on investors, who now need a 40 per cent deposit, it would be reasonable to expect that investor activity would have fallen more than other buyers.

Our buyer clas ation analysis shows that purchases have dropped for all buyer groups, but the investor share of those purchases remains unchanged.

The investors knocked out are those needing a mortgage, while the number of investors paying in cash is unchanged.

Auckland first home buyers have been hardest hit; their share of sales has gone from 22 per cent of all sales late last year to 19 per cent this year. This is the same drop seen in response to the first LVR restrictions in late 2013.

This time around though the total number of sales is much lower, a reflection of increased unaffordability as well as rising mortgage interest rates.

The slowdown in the number of sales isn't just confined to Auckland, with all the main centres having fewer sales in the last three months than the same time a year ago.

Hamilton is down 21 per cent, Tauranga down a hefty 34 per cent, Wellington and Dunedin down 15 per cent.

Values have also dropped in Hamilton and flattened in Tauranga, but so far there is no sign of a drop in values in Wellington where a growing shortage of housing is keeping pricing pressure on.

New listings and demand have already begun to slow down sharply across the country, typical of autumn.

Normally we could expect spring to herald a fresh market surge, but with a September general election date set, and plenty of debate about housing issues still to take place, the mood of home buyers is going to be hard to predict.

- NZ Herald

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