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Real Estate Investar Blog

First-home buyers collateral damage in NZ's unbalanced market

Too many people have been taken out of the property market, particularly in Auckland, CoreLogic says.

The property research firm's head of research Jonno Ingerson said the usual winter drop in market activity had hit, and was compounded by Reserve Bank restrictions on small-deposit loans and on investors.

There was also political uncertainty ahead of the election, he said, and affordability was keeping buyers out in Auckland.

CoreLogic's data showed that fewer people were applying to the banks for money. "That means fewer out on the street looking to buy property," Ingerson said.

Real Estate Institute data showed that, in May, sales numbers in Auckland were down 27.5 per cent on the year before, and 18.4 per cent nationwide, or 13.6 per cent outside Auckland.

Ingerson said while Auckland and Christchurch property values had started to drop off, Hamilton and Tauranga's were flattening and the strong increases seen a year ago in other parts of the country were "ancient history".

He said, as a percentage of sales, first-home buyers were holding their own.

CoreLogic data shows that in Auckland, investors are 44 per cent of the market, movers 22 per cent and first-home buyers 21 per cent. Six per cent of buyers were people who were new to the New Zealand market and paying in cash.

Nationwide, investors are 39 per cent of the market, compared to first-home buyers' 21 per cent.

But Ingerson said given the smaller number of sales, the actual numbers of first-home buyers getting into their own properties had fallen markedly, particularly in Auckland.

"The number of cash investors is unchanged over time. They don't care about ending restrictions. If they want to buy property, they just buy. [Investors] who need a mortgage have dropped away considerably, they are at the lowest level we've seen since during the GFC.

"Job done, Reserve Bank, you've knocked out investors from the market."

First-home buyers were the collateral damage, he said. The number of sales to first-home buyers was the lowest in 20 years.

"They are not only affected by the restrictions, can they get money, but the pure affordability of the market."

Over the rest of the country investors had dropped out, but the effect on investors was not so bad.

But he said the market was now unbalanced. "In Auckland, we've taken too many people out of the market."

He warned that was at a time where there were a lot of people moving to New Zealand and not enough houses being built. If that pressure was not on the market, prices might not prove so resilient.

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