Mortgage approvals hit a record low for a non-holiday week in the last week to July 9, Reserve Bank figures show.
The number of approvals fell to 4,867 in the week to July 9 from 5,241 in the previous week, making it much lower than even during the pit of the housing recession in October 2008 when prices were falling 10% from their November 2007 peak and the global financial crisis was at its worst. The Reserve Bank's records date back to October 2003.
The number of approvals in the 13 weeks to July 9 was down 20.7% on the same period a year earlier.
The value of these approvals was NZ$601 million in the week to July 9, down from NZ$679.9 million the previous week. The value in the last 13 weeks was down 18.6% from the same period a year ago.
Annual bank credit growth to households has fallen to around 2.5% from almost 10% two years ago, Reserve Bank figures show.
New Zealanders are unwilling or unable to add much more to their debts, which now collectively represent just under 160% of GDP, up from 102% ten years earlier and 58% in 1991, Reserve Bank figures show.
Even though interest costs as a percentage of collective disposable have fallen to 11% from a peak of 14.9% in the September quarter of 2008, home buyers remain wary of adding more debt as interest rates start rising. Many borrowers have much higher servicing costs, given many home owners are either debt free or have very low mortgages.