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Latest News & Articles

NZ Super Invests in Christchurch

Friday, 27 September 2019

 

Christchurch's commercial property market continues to tick over. The latest research from Christchurch Cityscope indicates CBD sales over the past three months had a total value of $64.2 million  and $178 million for the previous twelve months.

Included in these latest sales is the BreakFree on Cashel in Christchurch Central, a seven-storey hotel which was converted from an office building in to a hotel in September 2007; further refurbishment work was undertaken in 2015 after sustaining damage in the February 2011 earthquake. Its facilities include a restaurant, onsite bar, cafe, gym and office and conference rooms.

Recently, NZ Super Fund has invested $300 million into a hotel investment venture which includes an investment in the Christchurch BreakFree. The super fund, partnering with Russell Group of companies and Lockwood Group, is to form a partnership to own three hotels, the others being Four Points by Sheraton and Adina Britomart, both in Auckland. The New Zealand Superannuation Fund is a sovereign wealth fund in New Zealand, created in 2001 to help prefund the future cost of the New Zealand Superannuation pension. The Russell Group is a family owned and operated group of companies originally established by the late Alf Russell back in 1965. It now employs over 900 people and focuses on construction and property ownership and management. Lockwood is also a private investment group.

Colliers International’s specialist hotel adviser, Dean Humphries, who played a key role in the negotiations said that the ‘$300m was the indicative value of the current portfolio’.

OCR on hold; mortgage lending stable too

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Earlier today the Reserve Bank decided to keep the official cash rate unchanged at 1.0%, which in truth isn’t much of a surprise. Meanwhile, mortgage lending activity in August was pretty stable too, with owner-occupiers driving the market but investors more subdued. The LVR speed limits are seemingly having quite a strong effect on investors. However, there may be respite on the horizon, with a potential loosening of the rules in November.

CoreLogic Senior Property Economist Kelvin Davidson writes:

Official cash rate on hold at 1.0%, but watch for cut on November 13th…

The first key piece of news from the Reserve Bank (RBNZ) today was the decision to hold the official cash rate (OCR) unchanged at 1.0%, having surprised the markets by cutting it from 1.5% back on 7th August. Although you can never say never with this Governor and Committee, a cut was always unlikely today. However, with signs that general (CPI) price pressures are still pretty subdued and that the economy has perhaps lost a little momentum, there’s a decent chance that we’ll see a 0.75% OCR at the next meeting on 13th November.

Mortgage lending activity stable…

Hot on the heels of the OCR decision, the RBNZ has also just published the latest mortgage lending figures for August. The figures showed $5.4bn of lending last month, unchanged from a year earlier. That seems to have been a bit of ‘payback’ for a stronger month in July. Owner-occupiers are still driving activity, with investors more subdued (see the first chart).

Annual change in lending, $m (Source: RBNZ)

First home buyers are still recording the fastest growth in lending flows amongst owner-occupiers, but all others within that group are also just starting to show a tentative pick-up in the pace of growth (see the second chart). Generally speaking, the number of loans is still pretty flat, so the increases in the value of lending are being driven by larger average loans.

Annual change in lending, % in past 12 months compared to previous 12 months (Source: RBNZ)

In terms of the LVR speed limits, owner-occupier lending at <20% deposit is still running at 12-13% of activity, comfortably below the 20% speed limit (and even the self-imposed 15% that banks reportedly choose to adhere to). Yet with overall lending to owner-occupiers still growing, this suggests that most borrowers are able to find a sufficient deposit and the speed limit isn’t really a restraint at present. The story seems to be different for investors, however. Their overall borrowing activity is still pretty soft, and only about 1% of lending to investors is at less than a 30% deposit (see the third chart). This hints at a restraint from the speed limit, and hence could be a key group that would benefit from a potential loosening of the LVR rules in November (perhaps by raising their speed limit from 5% to 10%).

Proportion of lending at high LVRs (Source: RBNZ)

Overall, then, given that mortgage rates remain very low (and have even edged a bit lower over the past month or so), stable lending activity would be in line with expectations. Meanwhile, over the final week or two of August, the banks began to loosen their internal 7-8% serviceability tests, which will have given a little more impetus to borrowers – and there surely has to be a good chance that this will have continued in September (lending figures for this month due 24th October).

The key factor to keep in mind for 2020 is the looming, extra bank capital requirements and what that might mean for mortgage rates – potentially they may start to rise. As the fourth chart shows, the bulk of mortgages in NZ are on fixed rates, which will shelter borrowers for a period of time. But that clearly won’t be forever, and so market activity could well face some stronger headwinds later next year and into 2021.

Share of mortgages fixed and floating (Source: RBNZ)

Plenty of stats and numbers to cover this month as well as changes in bank serviceability criteria. And of course, what to make of the KiwiBuild reset.

The share of property purchases made by mortgaged investors has recently risen back to 26% nationally, the highest since just prior to the introduction of a 40% deposit for this group (LVR III in October 2016). Auckland has been a key part of the upturn from investors, even though this is where rental yields are lowest. Of course, when you consider that property values have fallen recently across Auckland (e.g. by about $36,500 from the peak in Auckland City central area), some investors are clearly sensing bargains.

CoreLogic Senior Property Economist Kelvin Davidson writes:

The key highlight from the latest CoreLogic Buyer Classification figures is the continued resurgence in market share for mortgaged multiple property owners (MPOs, or ‘investors’). Over July and August, they have accounted for 26% of residential property purchases across NZ, as shown in the first chart. This is the highest share since the third quarter of 2016 (28%), which was the zenith for investors before the Reserve Bank introduced the third round of LVRs and required a 40% deposit.

NZ % share of purchases (Source: CoreLogic)

The recent bounce-back for investors is evident around most of the main centres, including Hamilton, Tauranga, Christchurch and Dunedin (although first home buyers are still the big story in Wellington). But given that property prices are highest and gross rental yields are lowest in Auckland, the renaissance here is perhaps of most interest. As the second chart shows, mortgaged MPOs have increased their market share from 25% in the first six months of the year up to 28% now – and have again overtaken first home buyers (26%). It’s also still the MPO 2’s that are driving the upturn in Auckland, commonly known as ‘mum and dad’ investors (note that the third chart does not break down the data by mortgaged or cash).

Auckland % share of purchases (Source: CoreLogic)

 

Auckland % of purchases by multiple property owners by number of properties owned (Source: CoreLogic)

In addition, most parts of Auckland have contributed, including Manukau and Papakura (although Waitakere for example is still currently a pretty hot market for first home buyers). However, the biggest influence has come from the large Auckland City market, where the share for mortgaged investors has actually been rising since early last year (see the fourth chart), and has now hit 30%.

Auckland City (old territorial authority) % share of purchases (Source: CoreLogic)

At first glance, the rise in investor activity in Auckland may look surprising, given that gross rental yields across the super-city as a whole are pretty low (2.7% versus 3.3% nationally), and even lower in the Auckland City central area (2.2%). However, as we noted last month*, investor activity everywhere across the country will have received a boost from the scrapping of the capital gains tax proposals, and the low returns on offer from other assets (e.g. term deposits) may also be seeing some money re-diverted back towards property.

And then on top of that, an additional factor in Auckland specifically is that falling property values will also of course have grabbed the attention of some investors, looking to bag a potential bargain in a buyer’s market. In the Auckland City area, for example, average property values have dropped by 2.9% from their peak in June last year, equating to about $36,500. That’s likely to have been enough of a fall in price to make the economics stack up for some investors. Certainly, as we highlighted in our latest ‘Pain & Gain’ report**, apartments owned for less than three years in Auckland have recently been struggling when it comes to achieving resale profits, so this segment could be where some investors buying into the market in recent months have been sensing opportunities.

Bottom line, first home buyers have generally been the key group of interest for the past year or two. But this now seems to be changing slightly, and investors may well be the hot topic for 2020.

https://www.corelogic.co.nz/news/are-investors-starting-reassert-themselves-property-market
** https://www.corelogic.co.nz/news/pain-creeping-aucklands-property-resale-market