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If the NZ property market were a person, it will have dragged its heels back to work after a year of constant change, unrelenting pressure and left-field surprises.
 
Like all well intentioned self-improvers, it would have taken time over the summer break to reflect on the year that was, before embracing what’s coming next. And by all accounts, what a year 2017 was. 
 
It started hot on the heels of a major milestone ticking over:  the total value of all residential property in NZ passing the trillion dollar barrier. That’s a lot of value in one asset class and reinforces just how much property is an obsession here.
 
In early 2017 this was the lay of the land: 
  • The LVR restrictions had recently been tightened by the Reserve Bank of NZ. Heading into 2018, those restrictions have been loosened - albeit only marginally.
  • NZ had not long sworn in a new Prime Minister after John Key surprisingly stepped down in December 2016. Fast forward a year and once again we have a new Prime Minister in Jacinda Ardern, plus a whole new Government too.
The global audience was still getting its head around both the Brexit vote and Trump’s election victory and what it was all going to do for the world’s economy. Turns out that not too much impact was felt by NZ’s property market. 
 
Moving from politics back to property - despite a slowing of property values leading into 2017 there remained concern about prices increasing and the level of debt being incurred, especially by investors. Of course this was the main driver for the Reserve Bank tightening the LVR restrictions in late 2016 - lifting the minimum deposit requirement for investors to 40%.
 
From this point onwards we saw a sustained impact on property values, especially in Auckland. While previous LVR restrictions had only impacted the market short term, this time their effect was felt long term. They weren’t the sole reason for the slowdown though.
 
Mortgage interest rates had moved up past their record lows and slowly inched higher. But perhaps more crucially the retail banks were beginning to tighten up the purse strings, with tougher lending criteria and more stringent stress testing around the serviceability of mortgages.
 
This lead to sales activity getting significantly dented across the country but as the area with the most expensive property in NZ*, Auckland was the hardest hit. After enjoying the biggest growth over the previous four years, from April 2017 onwards Auckland’s sales volumes were consistently down 30%.
 
An increase in total listings meant more choice for active buyers, who were actually diminishing in numbers. This combination meant lesser reason for prices to rise, which contributed to the slowdown too.   
 
And then came winter. 
 
All the factors mentioned above contributed to it being a particularly freezing one for NZ’s property market, influenced further by the impending General Election.  From July we got bombarded with election advertising and endless policy debates - which added just a touch of uncertainty to the future. Initially National was very clearly in the lead, so the possibility of leadership change was minimal. But Jacinda Ardern quickly changed all that, with her promotion to the top job in August bringing Labour back into contention. Once again, people wondered about the property market’s future.
 
This was also when property investors started to struggle. Yield from investments had already significantly reduced, capital gains were drying up without sign of improvement, and securing funding was proving difficult. This trio of challenges meant mortgaged investors’ share of sales reduced to less than 25% (from a peak of 28%) nationwide. Remember that flow of Auckland investors into other regions as well?  It soon began to taper off too. 
 
While this was all going on, first home buyers were actually increasing their share of sales - although it’s worth noting that while all buyers were affected by the tightening of credit, it was investors affected the most. This meant the share of sales to first home buyers actually increased.
 
Property investors (or speculators to be more accurate) now find themselves under increased scrutiny from the new Government. The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill passed in November, meaning improved standards for rental properties. About the same time foreign investors were also targeted, with foreign buyers soon to be effectively banned from buying existing property in NZ. So no respite in 2018 for some investors then, especially with expected tax changes to end the ability to negatively gear investment property and the extension of the Brightline test to five years to further ensure short term capital gains are taxed. 
 
Before the year was out we did see a very late spring lift in both sales activity and values in Auckland but then the summer break meant things came to a grinding halt. The NZ property market was busy panic buying at Kmart and fretting over whether to My Food Bag the Christmas lunch or not. We now won’t see a decent level of activity return from the summer lull until later this month.
 
So after all this, where did we end up? 
The statistics tell us that what it meant for Auckland was an overall value increase of 0.4% through 2017, but mixed results within the Super City; Auckland City finished up 2.2%, as did Papakura, but Waitakere ended the year down 1.9% and Manukau down 1.0% - easily the worst performing of our larger centres nationwide. Christchurch also finished the 2017 year below where it started, albeit by a very slim margin of 0.1%. 
 
Of the stronger performers, it was Dunedin that outpaced the rest of the ‘big 6’, realising a touch over 10% growth throughout the year. Wider Wellington (including Porirua and the Hutt) wasn’t far behind - rebounding from its early year slowdown to finish the year with 9.4% growth in values, with Porirua the pick of the bunch at 13.2% growth.
 
Meanwhile, Hamilton fared only slightly better than Auckland with 1.6% growth. Tauranga tried to get momentum again after hitting the brakes in early 2017 but couldn’t sustain it, ending the year up only 3.2%.
 
Outside our main six centres the best and worst were Masterton (19.6%), Horowhenua (16.5%) and Wanganui (15.1%) on top and Selwyn (0.3%), Waimakariri (1.7%) and Timaru (5.1%) at the bottom.
 
Now for that trillion dollar question …what does 2018 have in store?
Scanning across a few of the big influencers, net migration turned properly mid-way through 2017 after throwing a few dummy passes earlier to keep us all on our toes. It’s likely to continue to drop in 2018 as the Government reduces the in-flow of low skilled migrants and we start to lose Kiwis to Australia again (after gaining for the better part of the last two years).
 
Consumer confidence held up quite well through 2017 but is looking like its feelings are little bit hurt as we move into 2018. The weakness in the property market will be affecting that, but the strength of the labour market is holding it up, and that should remain relatively strong in 2018.
 
A major influencer on property values is mortgage interest rates. As has been well covered, a key part of those is the official cash rate which is tipped to stay on hold for 2018, but many economists are picking some upward pressure on mortgage rates due to the cost of funding for the banks.
 
So, plenty of macro-economic factors pointing to property demand remaining relatively constrained in 2018, but of course significant constraints on the construction industry remain, so supply will still lag. While there are ambitious Government targets to improve overall supply, particularly in Auckland, it’s unlikely that things will happen fast enough to massively improve the current demand/supply imbalance.
 
And don’t forget the research we released in the middle of 2017 which exposed that the actual increase in stock (6,000 units in 2016) is far behind those being consented (9,000 units in 2016). This is partly because the demolition of old properties to clear space for new properties isn’t taken into account with the ‘building consents issued’ measure.
 
So while building consents provide a high level health check of the construction industry, and they are trending upwards, they’re not always telling the whole story.
 
In Auckland we’ll probably see values remain relatively flat for most of 2018, barring a local or global economic shock. With more properties available, the fear of missing out has been removed - taking with it the previous upwards price pressure. People can once again save faster than the growth in property values (so waiting can actually pay off), plus it’s harder to secure funding…all adding up to constrained demand.  
 
Elsewhere we may see value growth continue a bit longer, particularly in Wellington and Dunedin where there remains a shortage of available listings and where the growth phase took a little longer to kick in than places like Hamilton and Tauranga. These centres will also likely see a period of consolidation as unaffordability starts to bite.
 
Christchurch is a city all on its own in terms of where it’s at in the property market cycle. It’s been more subdued throughout the last few years as it matures from the earthquake rebuild. There is still substantial development in the region, despite passing the residential construction peak. There are concerns of over-supply in some parts of the region but it doesn’t appear to be wide-spread, which should mean relative stability for 2018.
 
In our smaller centres, debate remains as to whether the strong growth of 2016/17 was actually warranted.  Some areas have benefitted from being in close proximity to larger centres, while others had stronger local economies to justify growth. Local knowledge is unbeatable in every case. But on the whole, migration to these areas has slowed: jobs drying up and value growth made property less affordable. So with the upwards pressure on mortgage interest rates having the same effect as anywhere in the country, it’s unlikely the strong recent growth will be sustained. 
 
So long story short, NZ’s property market may very well have concluded that it’s time to settle down for a year of re-evaluation and reflection, after a few spent living it up like a 20-something on their OE. 
 
- Nick Goodall, Head of Research - CoreLogic NZ
 
*Queenstown has surpassed Auckland as NZ’s most expensive centre when you look solely at average values, but given the size of Auckland, having such a high value is of far more significance than Queenstown which is unique in its economy being so heavily driven by tourism and is not what could be deemed typical of the property market in NZ.

 

New Zealand Regional Maps:
 
 
It was a disparate year for residential property values with a general trend of slowing in the rate of growth due to LVR speed limits, stricter retail bank lending criteria and uncertainty ahead of the election, along with periods of rapid value increases in some areas and decreasing values in others.
 
Overall the nationwide average shows residential property values increased 6.6% or $41,660 during 2017 from $627,905 in December 2016 to $669,565 in December 2017, according to the latest QV House Price Index statistics. The average national value increased 3.6% over the final three months of 2017. 
 
The full set of QV House Price Index statistics for all New Zealand can be found here.
 
Sales volumes were down on 2016 for every month during the year and between February and October they were in excess of 20% below 2016 levels before picking up in November when a post-election late spring surge saw them jump to just 10% lower than November 2016 levels.
 
QV National Spokesperson, Andrea Rush, “A slow-down in the rate of value growth in the housing market that began in the latter part of 2016 with the introduction of LVR speed limits requiring a 40% deposit by investors continued throughout 2017.”
 
“The frenzy in the market of the previous three years induced by high numbers of investors in the market subsided and we saw a return to more normal levels of activity in housing markets around the country.”
 
“By October nationwide annual value growth had slowed to 3.9%, the lowest rate of growth seen in five years and for the Auckland Region it slowed to - 0.6%, the slowest annual rate of growth seen there since March 2011.”
 
“High prices, constraints on finance caused by tightening in retail banks lending criteria and higher deposit requirements removed many buyers from the market and sales volumes plummeted.”
 
“Potential housing policy changes in the lead up to the election also caused uncertainty and people took a wait and see approach causing activity to slow dramatically over the winter quarter and this resulted in value decreases in many areas.”
 
“The usual annual spring surge was very slow to arrive and listing levels and market activity did not pick up until November and December and this can be seen in both sales volumes and value growth recovering in the last two months of the year.”
 
“The annual rate of value growth recovered to 6.4% in November and 6.6% in December and sales volumes for November lifted 21.0% higher than in October. This was partly due to buyers delaying purchasing until the election result was decided and may also have been in part due to some buyers racing to purchase before the new foreign buyers’ ban in December.”
 
“The slight easing in LVR restrictions by the Reserve Bank due this month is likely to help improve activity and demand in housing the market as we move through the summer months.”
 
“Low interest rates, relatively high net migration and lack of supply means market drivers remain and we are likely to see values hold for the most part during 2018 in the main centres but the trend of lower rates of growth is likely to continue."
 
"However, areas where investors were previously very active may continue to see values drop back where prices remain too high for first home buyers particularly in Auckland, Hamilton and surrounding districts.”
 
“Some regional areas may continue to see stronger value growth than the main centres during the year.”   
 
Main Centres
Of the main centres Porirua city, Napier, Hastings and Whanganui saw the greatest percentage growth during the year.
 
 
Auckland 
The average value across the wider Auckland region increased 0.4% or $4,583 from $1,047,179 at December 2016 to $1,051,762 at December 2017. Values rose 1.2% over the past three months.
 
Annual growth ticked up again across the Auckland region in the final quarter of 2017 with most areas seeing values rising again. The former Auckland City Council central suburbs saw values rise 2.2% in the year to December and 1.6% over the final quarter of the year with Auckland City - East continuing to rise above average for the region, up 3.6% year on year and 2.8% over the past three months, the average value there is now $1,575,133. Strong value growth also continues for Auckland City – Islands with the Waiheke Island market driving growth up 13.7% in the year to December and 6.6% over the final quarter of the year.
 
North Shore values also ticked up again rising 0.7% in year on year and 2.6% over the final three months of the year. Waitakere values also rose 1.0% over the final three months of 2017 although values were down 1.9% in the year since December 2016.
 
Meanwhile, values are also increasing again in both Rodney and Franklin and particularly in Papakura which rose 2.2% year on year and 2.6% over the final three months of the year. Manukau bucked the general trend as values there dropped 1.0% year on year and 0.3% over the past three months.
 
Hamilton
Values in Hamilton dropped slightly by 0.5% over the past three months but rose on average by 1.6% or $8,586 over the past year from an average of $534,860 in December 2016 to $543,446 in December 2017.
 
Tauranga
Tauranga home values increased 3.2% year on year or $21,528 from an average value of $672,197 in December 2016 to $693,725 in December 2017. After dipping in November, values in the city had begun rising again by December and values rose 1.0% in the final quarter of the year.
 
Meanwhile, the Western Bay of Plenty market has seen sustained growth throughout 2017 and rose 9.1% in the year to December or $52,185 from an average value of $571,520 in December 2016 to $623,705 in December 2017. Values rose 1.4% over the past three months.
 
Wellington
Values across the wider Wellington Region rose 9.4% or $ 54,040 over the past year from an average value of $574,410 in December 2016 to an average value of $628,450 in December 2017. Values across the region rose 3.6% over the last quarter of 2017.
 
Wellington City increased by 9.1% year on year and 3.3% over the past three months. The average value there is now $756,879. Wellington – North is up the most, increasing by 6.2% over the past three months alone and 11.2% in the year to December 2017.  Meanwhile values continue to rise strongly across Wellington’s regional centres. Upper Hutt is up 11.1% year on year and 2.6% over the past three months; while Lower Hutt rose 11.4% year on year and 1.0% over the past quarter; and Porirua rose 13.2% year on year and 3.7% over the past quarter. Finally, the Kapiti Coast is up 13.5% year on year and 3.8% over the past three months.
 
QV Wellington Senior Consultant, David Cornford said, “It was another year of relatively strong value growth throughout the Wellington region however year on year value growth slowed considerably during 2017 compared to 2016.”
 
“Value growth took a breather over the winter months and during the build up to the election however by mid spring market activity had started to pick up and value growth continued.”
 
“A shortage of stock, low interest rates and a relatively strong local economy continues to support a robust property market in the Wellington region.”
 
“First home buyers had a strong presence in the Wellington market throughout 2017.”
 
Christchurch 
Christchurch city values have remained stable, dropping slightly by 0.1% or $541 over the past year from an average value of $494,247 in December 2016 to $493,706 in December 2017. Values have increased slightly by 0.4% over the past quarter.
 
Meanwhile, growth remains strong across Canterbury’s regions. The Waimakariri District up 1.7% year on year and 1.5% over the past three months; while Selwyn values increased slightly 0.3% year on year and 0.7% over the past quarter.
 
QV Christchurch Property Consultant, Hamish Collins said, “It’s been slow and steady for the Christchurch housing market during 2017. We have seen less activity than in previous years as heat comes out of post-earthquake market and overall the market has normalised after the earthquakes”
 
“The high level of housing stock on the market has given purchasers’ more options and vendors are finding they need to adjust their expectations from a moving post-earthquake market to a slower environment.”
 
“First home buyers remain active in the market as do those purchasing “as is where is” properties with existing unrepaired earthquake damage.”
 
“Those in the investor market remain anxious about potential changes to regulations such as insulation, building warrant of fitness and taxes and investors have also been hamstrung by LVR and bank lending restrictions throughout the year.”
 
Dunedin
The recent trends continue as residential property values continue to rise across Dunedin. Values rose 10.4% or $36,965 over the past year from an average value of $354,133 in December 2016 to an average value of $391,098 in December 2017. Values increased 2.7% over the final three months of 2017.
 
Of particular interest is the strong growth of the Peninsular and Coastal part of Dunedin, which is up 5.6% over the past three months and 17.9% year on year, followed by the Southern area which increased 5.4% over the last three months of the year and 10.9% year on year.
 
QV Dunedin Property Consultant, Aidan Young said, “Demand for residential property in Dunedin has remained strong, from both the local and national buyers throughout 2017.”
 
“First home buyers have remained active throughout the year with the lower entry point of the Dunedin market aiding this situation.”
 
“The LVR restrictions had little effect on values, although it did see an easing in demand from investors due to the 40% deposit requirement.”
 
“Supply has been consistently low, with good quality properties being sold relatively quickly and vacant land has also been receiving good prices as demand for sections remains strong.”
 
“The upper end of the market has seen some slight shifts, indicating good confidence for higher priced homes.”
 
“The election appeared to slow activity, but we have not seen any material impacts yet.”
 
“Value growth has been moderate during 2017 and we can expect to see a similar positive outlook for the market in 2018, providing conditions remain.”
 
Nelson
Nelson residential property values continue to increase, rising 11.1% or $55,318 year on year from an average value of $499,866 in December 2016 to $555,184 in December 2017. Values rose 1.8% over the last three months of 2017.
 
Meanwhile, values in the Tasman District have also continued to rise, up 11.4% or $56,927 year on year from an average value of $499,082 in December 2016 to $556,009 in December 2017. They increased 3.0% over the last quarter of 2017.
 
QV Nelson Property Consultant Craig Russell said, “The Nelson/Tasman market experienced strong value growth over 2017 despite a slow winter period in the build up to the election.”
 
“The market here is considered to be more robust than other regions given the strong local economy and being a desirable place to live.”
 
“Low interest rates continue to fuel demand which has outpaced supply. This is particularly true for section sales with pent up demand driving up land values as new stages of developments are released to the market.”
 
“During 2017 we saw a surge in activity for high value properties being sold particularly around Ruby Bay/Tasman, Nelsons Port Hills, College area and Atawhai.”
 
“Listing numbers remained relatively stable in 2017 with a decrease occurring in winter which we consider a normal seasonal trend.”
 
“Sales volumes decreased in 2017 compared with the previous year as homeowners either chose to renovate over buying, or were simply priced out of the market.”
 
“Investor activity also eased during the year following the introduction of the 40% deposit requirement in late 2016.”
 
Hawkes Bay
Values continue to rise across the Hawkes Bay region. Napier values rose 15.1% or $62,770 year on year from an average value of $415,189 in December 2016 to an average value of $477,959. Values rose 2.6% over the past three months.  
 
The Hastings market also continues to rise up 14.9% or $57,828 year on year from an average value of $387,133 in December 2016 to an average value of $444,961 in December 2017. Values increased 3.0% over the last three months of the year.
 
Other Provincial centres
The growth in values across many central and lower North Island provincial areas continues. Values in regions including South Waikato, Opotiki, Rangitikei, Tararua and Carterton have increased particularly over the past three months. Meanwhile, provincial areas to the South and North of Auckland – including the Kaipara, Hauraki and Thames Coromandel District - continue to see values decrease despite the trend of market growth over the past few years.      
 
In the South Island regional centres, it’s a relatively stable outlook. Values across most areas are either flat or steadily increasing. The MacKenzie District continues to rise up 5.2% over the past three months and 24.7% year on year which is the highest annual rise in the country, while Southland and Invercargill are also continuing on an upward trend. Market growth remains strong in the Queenstown Lakes, as values increase 3.0% over the past three months with an average current value now much higher than the Auckland Region of $1,111,995.  
 
 
So the end of the year draws near! We’re starting to get a much clearer picture of where the property market is at, with a few months since Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters signed their coalition agreement.
 
And the latest month of data, courtesy of the QV House Price Index (HPI), shows many parts of the country have experienced a late spring lift in values. It’s far too early to be calling it a resurgence but it’s hard not to notice the mini ramp-up in average values when you chart it over time. 
 
In Auckland this equates to a 0.4% lift over the last three months, but looking just at November values actually increased 0.7%, perhaps making up for the sustained previous period of no growth.
 
The question has to be asked at this stage whether the change has anything to do with the recently released new Rating Valuations (RV) for the Super City but previous experience and a quick look under the hood of the Index tells us this is not the case - it is after all designed to be unaffected by this process.
 
Spring finally announced its presence in November - both in our weather and property market patterns: perhaps this correlation isn’t a coincidence! If we look at consumer activity of people actually asking for mortgages, December has also started strongly (outside Auckland at least) so it looks as if those people who were unsure about the market throughout September and October have decided that things aren’t too bad and have re-entered the market. 
 
This is most evident in Wellington, where recent activity is sitting at 12% above winter levels, while Hamilton is following slightly further back on +8% . At first glance, this looks like a decent increase for Hamilton, but Hamilton didn’t experience such frosty winter activity, so it’s actually had a head start.
 
In addition to the activity lift, Wellington has also seen a value increase of 2.6% over the last 3 months, as reported in the QV HPI.  Listings in the Capital region remain at a near all-time low, with volume levels 5% down year-on-year and 31% down on the same time two years ago. This dearth of listings has counteracted the drop in demand.
 
Similarly, the Otago region is suffering the same lack of available properties - 38% less than two years ago. Once again this has led to an uplift in values, with Dunedin in particular up 2.8% over the last 3 months.
 
Outside our main six centres it’s very much a mixed bag in terms of recent value change, with no real consistency witnessed. And for those areas where value growth has persisted (including Napier/Hastings, Horowhenua/Kapiti and Nelson/Tasman), one of the key questions is whether or not it’s justified and whether or not it will continue next year.
 
In answering that question, a useful sense check is to analyse whether new builds have kept pace with or maybe even outpaced population increases. In most cases the figures are relatively well aligned. 
 
Over the last six years, the increase in the number of properties in Napier and Hastings has matched the increase in population -  so overall growth seems relatively justified; however with the projected population increase now slowing,  the build rate should also start to slow, or a risk of oversupply applies. 
 
The same applies in Horowhenua/Kapiti and Nelson, but not so much in Tasman, where the number of properties have increased 9% compared to a population lift of just 6%. This could reflect an increase in holiday homes and/or the amount of people accepting the commute into Nelson for work, so I’m not suggesting panic stations for the Tasman region just yet!
 
It’s not exactly advanced economics to point out that you need a local economy to support growth in population and property values - otherwise, once the money and jobs dry up people might have to leave to find income, thus causing a property oversupply.  If you’re investing in such regions, make sure your research focus extends beyond property to wider demographics and local industries too. 
 
So… if you’re heading off on a summer holiday, you’ve now officially got some fodder when the conversation undoubtedly turns to buying that beachside property or moving to the regions for a vastly improved lifestyle. Enjoy your break and do keep an eye out on Facebook and Twitter where we’ll keep sharing insights. 
 
- Nick Goodall, Head of Research - CoreLogic NZ
 
 

 

 
Nick Goodall, Head of Research – CoreLogic NZ
 
As the year draws to a close, we’ve got a good understanding on likely changes to the property market and certainly which buyer groups are under the new Government’s property spotlight. In short, property speculators and foreign buyers are the focus.
 
The Government has been clever in using the Overseas Investment Act to restrict foreign citizens buying existing property, but there’s no official measure of foreign buyer activity - so the actual potential impact of this is an unknown. We have heard however that foreign buyer activity has already diminished due to our banks not accepting foreign income to satisfy income criteria on mortgages, so my expectation is for pretty minimal overall impact. Maybe chalk this one up to a savvy, popular political move as opposed to one with major market impact.
 
So it’s the focus on property speculators that’s really interesting. This group will be targeted with a two-fold approach: tax changes and improvements to the rental market. 
 
Tax changes for property speculators: 
None of the tax policy changes are fully confirmed yet but I expect the Brightline test to get an extension from 2 years to 5 years. To quickly recap, that test ensures any profits made from an investment property sale within 2 years of purchase are taxed. The initial introduction didn’t have much impact and I’d expect any extension to have a similarly low level impact.
 
The other likely tax change is to remove investors’ ability to negatively gear their properties (that is, they can’t claim back taxes for rental losses).  Anecdotally we’re hearing this could have more of an impact than initially thought. Especially when you factor in that capital gains have significantly reduced lately, thus reducing the potential profitability of investment. Take away another source of ‘income’ and the financial benefits of owning investment property are reduced.
 
Policy changes to influence the rental market: 
Looking at the rental market now and rental properties are going to have to satisfy a minimum standard of insulation and heating in the not-too-distant future. This is via an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 with the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill recently passing through Government. But it will take a while to come into force – starting in about 6 months, so it’s a longer term improvement. There will also likely be improvements to tenants’ rights (in the form of reducing the ability of landlords to increase rents to once a year and extending the notice period for eviction). 
 
Both these policy changes are minor tweaks, but when you add all this up there’s a lot to weigh on the mind of a potential property investor when assessing their options. My feeling is that this will mostly impact purchase decisions and not selling decisions. Some investors will definitely be up for tough decisions, and I’d anticipate overall demand to reduce, especially for the long term.  
 
Tracking those listing, that’s certainly the case so far with no major change in the type of people listing their property at the moment. The mix between owner occupiers and multiple property owners remains relatively consistent with the rest of 2017. Definitely one to watch though, the common hypothesis says that if we see a lift in experienced investors divesting from the market, then that could be a strong indicator the market is in for tougher times than we’d otherwise expect.
 
OCR, LVR and Housing Confidence: 
Rounding out the year’s events, the Reserve Bank left the Official Cash Rate (OCR) unchanged, as expected. We don’t expect to see any movement in the OCR until at least 2019. The Reserve Bank also recently announced a modest easing of the current LVR restrictions. From 1 January 2018, the LVR restrictions will require that: no more than 15 percent (currently 10 percent) of each bank’s new mortgage lending to owner occupiers can be at LVRs of more than 80 percent, and no more than 5 percent of each bank’s new mortgage lending to residential property investors can be at LVRs of more than 65 percent (currently 60 percent).
 
Interestingly, ASB’s Quarterly Housing Confidence Survey was released early November, reporting price expectations dropping to a 6-year low. Again this isn’t too much of a surprise given the recent slowdown in the market, contributed to by the Election & new Government uncertainty. What it does tell us is that potential buyers can remain cautious and less desperate with their purchases if they don’t believe prices are going to increase anytime soon, which will prolong the current flatness in the market.
 
So there you have it: tough purchasing decisions ahead for investors, the jury’s out on the overseas buyer situation, and no obvious change in who is actually selling their properties…yet.
 
This article was originally published on the Auckland Property Investors' Association blog