David Hargreaves tries to make sense of swirling and contradictory facts and figures around the current mortgage market

David Hargreaves tries to make sense of swirling and contradictory facts and figures around the current mortgage market

To say things are 'interesting' in the world of mortgages at the moment is to say nothing.

Things are moving in so many different directions its pretty difficult to see a clear picture.

But we will have a go.

There's been a number of intriguing and almost contradictory developments in the past week. This week, of course, we've seen the official six-month extension of the mortgage loan deferral scheme. In tandem with that, though, we had the Reserve Bank's Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand (who doubles as the bank's head of financial stability) clearly indicating to the banks that the RBNZ did not want a full deferral treated as the "default setting".

So, in other words, the deferral is there - if you really must - but try to sort something else out first.

I wondered from the Deputy Governor's comment - and I could be reading to much into it - if the RBNZ was a bit surprised, and maybe disconcerted, by the number of people who did take up the original offer in late March.

The Bankers' Association of New Zealand says that since March 26, when New Zealand first went into lockdown, banks have deferred all repayments on consumer loans totalling around $21 billion for over 61,000 customers. That represents 7% of total consumer lending. It adds, however, that nearly a quarter of those customers have subsequently restarted their loan repayments.

Notwithstanding the numbers that have restarted payments, I have to say I was quite taken aback by how many people did go for a straight out deferral. When you add in the numbers of customers who varied payments, reduced them, or went interest only, that actually gave you a total of 16% of mortgages that were affected. It's a lot.

In arrears

And yet, this week also, we have the news of rising numbers of people in arrears with their mortgages. Which is not good and here's hoping they are talking with their banks. The worst thing you can do surely is suffer in silence and slowly get yourself in deep.

To go back to those high mortgage deferral figures, I do wonder how many people went full deferral as a first option, and then stuck their wage subsidy in the bank and sat on it?

We do know from the figures that Kiwis increased the amount they had in their bank accounts by some $10.6 billion to the end of June. How much of that was wage subsidy money, able to be saved because they weren't paying the mortgage?

I guess, draw in your breath, some of these questions will be answered in coming months. But looking at all that, you would have to say that the comments from the Deputy Governor are therefore spot on. Personally, I don't have a mortgage - and can I say I'm delighted to be in that position at the moment - but generally my view is always that you pay the mortgage first and worry about little luxuries like eating somewhere down the track. 

Digging a hole

The problem with deferring anything is that you never know what the future holds. If things look bad now, well, they could be worse in six months. Heck, let's hope not, but the point is, you don't know. And if you can pay your mortgage now, surely better to do that. And if things are peachy in six months, well, you've battle through it and the mortgage is up to date. Unfortunately debt doesn't go away by itself and anybody - and there will be those - who ends up going for a full 12 months of deferral is putting themselves in a hole from which it will take a while to emerge.

To look at the numbers apparently of rising mortgage arrears and compare that with savings figures is to perhaps suggest that at least in some cases those who didn't need to defer their mortgage payments did so, while those who really NEEDED TO didn't. As I say, I hope they are talking to their banks and not suffering in silence. 

We know that while all this is going on the numbers of people ramping themselves up with debt is still going on. Latest mortgages by debt-to-income ratio figures from the RBNZ tell us that amidst all the chaos of this Covid year, still more mortgage money is being borrowed at high debt-to-income ratios of five or more times annual income.

The slightly quixotic thing about that though is that if people are reasonably sure they will keep their jobs (and that's the BIGGIE at the moment) then in many respects it makes sense.

Eye watering

The amounts borrowed are getting ever larger, but the interest rate impost is getting lower and lower. So, eye watering amounts of debt that could not have been contemplated even a few years back are now doable.

And there's little change likely in the foreseeable future. In fact, what we do know is that rates are from all indications set to go even lower.

Last week the Reserve Bank sent its clearest signal yet that it intends to push the Official Cash Rate (currently at +0.25%) into minus territory. And the bank economists are now factoring this into their forecasts.

This doesn't mean banks will be paying US to take mortgages, the world doesn't work like that. But, hey, with some mortgage offers already having a '2' in front of them, I think it's entirely feasible that by March/April next year we will be seeing some mortgages with a '1' in front of them.

So, if you do think you are going to keep your job, getting a mortgage - even if you have to borrow a lot - might not seem like such a bad idea.

Two-speed

It all suggests, much as we are seeing in areas of the economy like retailing, that there might be a bit of a two-tier, or two-speed situation developing in the mortgage world where some who have mortgages are in a lot of trouble while for others the current disarray will bring opportunity.

What's that going to mean for the housing market?

Well, possibly very contradictory signals. 

As has been the case since early this year, the key thing is what happens with the virus itself. 

What I would say is that in five years' time people will be looking at a rising housing market - with shortages - and those who have bought will be happy.

But what happens in the meantime, well, I don't think we can get a clear steer on that till we have some idea of how long this virus is going to be around for.

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95 Comments

23
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Affordable with 2 secure good incomes
Except now those conditions look decidedly shaky

13
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.... as long as no one is planning kids or has enough of a safety net to fall back on.
.... as long as both jobs are secure.
.... as long as the underlying asset doesn't drop in value.

That's not any one of those - it's all three.

Lots of as long as.....Easy to see why one is allowed to just hand the keys back to the bank in the US and walk on the mortgage.

I mean that's effectively what a mortgagee sale is. They just immediately sell it.

The difference is in what happens if the proceeds of the mortgagee sale don't cover the debt.

Yeah, that whole recourse thing bites.

Perhaps we should move to non recourse. Would be interesting to see how much more circumspect bank lending becomes.

as realterms suggests, there is a difference between a recourse loan and a nonrecourse loan

I wonder what the interest rates are like on the balance of a mortgage that's no longer backed by a property.

about 3% in the US. fixed. for 30 years. yes, the length of the loan

Yes, I was referring to New Zealand as I'm aware in the US you can fix for the term of the loan, which then leads us to the other slight issue we have in New Zealand is every 2 year fix is in a way a "new application", a trigger for the bank to go over everything to see if circumstances have changed.

Given there are low equity premiums for home owners, I assume those low equity premiums will also apply to homeless borrowers and to what extent do they go further?

How can a bank determine if your job is “secure”? They simply can’t. It’s incredible that banks are still freely lending massive sums for severely overpriced assets in these crazy economic conditions, and especially when everybody’s livelihoods are in flux.
I know one couple who have just bought a house, one is employed by Auckland council, currently going through a restructure, the other had a full-time job now reduced to part-time. Yet somehow the bank determined they were a good candidate for a massive mortgage!
And I know several other couples who have mortgages approved and actively looking who are all in no less tenuous states.
Hell even my partner has just been told out of nowhere that her department is being restructured, and that’s a surprise given her company’s strong financial position and large number of contractors the company is still bloated with.

"How can a bank determine if your job is “secure”? They simply can’t."

An assessment is made based on your industry, skill set, demand for your job, type of employer, tenure etc. For example if you're a specialist doctor with 20 years experience, on a long term govt contract in an area of high demand for your services you can probably access as much debt as your briefcase can carry.

Isn't job loss the reason that banks seem to require people get income protection insurance before getting a loan?

I'm not aware that is a requirement. Can you imagine the astronomical premiums that will be charged now that this pandemic has arrived?

21
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"What's that going to mean for the housing market?" Well we can't expect mortgage rates to keep falling forever to prop up the ponzi scheme and prevent negative equity, give it another year or two till we hit 0%, What then?

Nine years of National's blatant selling off NZ has done a lot of damage, pushing house prices beyond most wager earners reach and has drastically put our banking system at high risk.

How has 'selling off NZ' pushed up house prices? Do you really believe this is the primary driver of high house prices? Because it's not correct.

14
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You have to remember what's been happening over the past 10 years to the NZ property market and how prices we're so drastically pushed out of reach of wage earners.

2010 - Home prices at affordable levels but rising quickly in Auckland mostly due to surge of foreign buyers from China.

2010 - 2015 Surge continues in Auckland property buying, National Government claims Foreign Buyers only account for 3% of the Auckland property purchases. JK decided to punish resident Landlords by imposing a 40% LVR restriction on them, forcing them out to other investment areas; Hamilton, Queenstown, Tauranga etc.. prices increase there. Auckland prices continue to surge due to Chinese buyers and money laundering, National does little to nothing to stop it.

2016 - 2017 Peak of Auckland property surge, China steps in to try to stop Capital Flight and money laundering from China, this slows down the market a bit.

End of 2017, New NZ Government, Labour introduce Foreign Buyers Ban and see though effective Anti Money Laundering measures further slowing down the Auckland property market.

2018 - 2019 - Auckland property market stagnates due to enforced measures, banks start to lower mortgage rates to help prevent Negative Equity, Property repossessions (Mortgagees) and to help people repay their mortgages.
With much lower mortgage rates, property prices start to increase around the rest of NZ.

2020 - Pandemic, Banks rapidly drop mortgage rates. Big changes in China, they grab Hong Kong as the global pandemic rages around the world (Money on the move again). Pandemic creates uncertainty, NZ loses major International Tourism industry, more unemployment and huge increase on government support and wage subsidies. Yet oddly property prices keep increasing even in areas very dependent on tourism which had been recently stagnating (Queenstown, Auckland).

14
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Yes, but this is a credit-driven bubble caused by the retail banks ability to lend large mortgages from thin air to NZers. You can rage against furriners and the gubmint, but the people you live amongst have been the key driver of the bubble.

Primarily the economically Clueless Councils and their Plans. Read the Productivity Commish epistles. Foobarring land values screws pricing for everything on top......Poster child for an alternative approach is Christchurch post-quakes. The much-maligned Brownlee, via the LURP, threw the TLA hand-brakes on development under the bus, and land supply was wide open. House prices in Christchurch, and house+plot prices, have remained plateau'ed for the last decade as a direct result....

genuine question> how did builders manage to supply houses onto the land plots, at affordable prices? Was there some more efficiency or subsidising going on there? Or is the section price just so significantly different to that in Wellington, that the final home price lands back into the real world.

Back to my original comment "Falling mortgage rates can't go on forever". Once we're at zero, How will you prevent negative equity and property repossessions?

12
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I wouldn't ignore any of the figures. For example, analysis on here at one point highlighted that 49% of sales on the North Shore had no NZ citizen as a party in the transaction. Obviously that breaks down to a mix of residents and non-residents, but the overarching problem was a growing dissatisfaction with the impact of capital flowing into New Zealand but primarily into houses. When we need capital into businesses, and affordable housing.

11
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Com'on mate, this started before 2010.

House prices were not affordable in 2010.

I accept the rest, but don't rewrite history.
House prices had a massive run in the Clark era too and they, equally, sat by idle as the problem grew.

So did Helen Clark sell her home for $23.5 million to an Asian investor, handed out NZ visas for cash and also tried to change the NZ flag as part of a marketing ploy (Now that was an attempt to rewrite history). Or was it someone else? JK somebody.....

Who reinstated titular honors, only to go on to receive one himself?

House price affordability is almost solely tied to the interest rates. So house prices can rise and be just as affordable when interest rates drop. The problem isn't affordability, it is the house price to income ratio which is a major problem IMO, as NZs house prices are some of the highest based on this. .

I can’t believe that you really think that it’s not?! I forgive you for thinking this way if you don’t live in central Auckland. I live in central Auckland and its so obvious it slaps me in the face every day.
You only need to look at farm prices to see the dramatic and very speedy impact the foreign buyer ban has had on prices.

Agreed. There are parts of Auckland where you could be mistaken for living in a different country.

FYI there has never been a ban on foreign investment in respect to farms. There is the OIO scrutiny but not a ban. Farm prices have come back due to increasing constraints and scrutiny of farm practices and are now more aligned with production value expectations, existing or potential.

14
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The NZ HPI has been stratospheric since 2000, National may have had a part to play but so have every other government over the last 20 years.

15
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That's true, but it's also why John Key campaigned on the housing crisis and people voted for him on that campaigning. The betrayal was turning around and pretending no such crisis existed, but only perpetuating and making it worse.

This current government has not fixed the problem either (see the regions growth while Auckland remained stagnant - or negative in US dollar terms), but they have at least made starts on some of the problems rather than actively working to worsen them.

Exactly, on that note I understand National (and ACT) have said they will repeal the FBB if elected. Have they stated why they would do that in regard to benefiting non-homeowners?

The spin is because it’s good for the economy. it creates jobs to build Flash homes for “rich Americans” (Funny how JK carefully chose Americans rather than “Rich Chinese”, especially when Americans are a mere blip when it comes to the source of foreign buyers)
Ever increasing assets increases confidence in personal financial situation which flows into spending in the economy.
And in summary non-home owners should just be grateful to have a job effectively created by the “rich asset holders”.

They accidentally went so far as to say it roughly like "Rich foreigners will live in the places Kiwis could never afford anyway, such as beachfronts and beautiful mountain spots".

Well, great...if ever a party was happy to turn Kiwis into a low paid servant class for wealthy foreigners, I think we've found it. Bet they're relieved they got their opportunity to buy into these sorts of places before they started pulling that ladder up.

If they get citizenship, then they’ll be Kiwis too
Problem solved

Hahahaha ....not!

Then he went on to increase GST by 2.5%, cut income taxes and borrow an extra $50 billion on the Government to pay for a "GFC" and an Earthquake where the RBNZ estimates insurers have picked up $26b out of the $40b estimated rebuild cost (in 2015).

https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/-/media/ReserveBank/Files/Publications/Bulletin...

BE also perpetuated the no housing crisis, still echoing his master.

In Australia the banks asked people in deferral if they wanted to resume paying. Only 16% resumed paying their mortgage. There will be some that will be taking advantage of the opportunity but many will not be able to pay right now.

The suggestion of getting a mortgage at today's low rates is good if people have a high savings rate (having an easily affordable mortgage payment). Despite the current volatility investment returns are still highly likely to exceed the cost of a mortgage. A 30 year mortgage at a low interest rate coupled with higher returning investments is a good wealth building tool.

dictator .......they will be piling it into Bitcoin and other alts. .....FIAT money is going to be inflated out of existence.

18
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Correct. Lower interest rates equal increased serviceability which translates into crippling notional amounts of mortgage debt. Rates must stay low or even go lower because the faintest increase in rates will have a detrimental impact on repayments given the huge notional amount of mortgage debt. And so the forever low rates story continues to protect mortgage holders who are extremely sensitive to interest rate increases because of massive amount of debt taken on to buy a house severely overpriced driven in part by low interest rates and therefore increased ability to borrow. Yuck.

"What I would say is that in five years' time people will be looking at a rising housing market - with shortages - and those who have bought will be happy."

Big call!
In Victorian times, property prices didn't move at all for 70 years. Now, these aren't Victorian times - yet.
It's only really been since the 1970s that property became a medium for wealth creation. Before that, it was 'how good are you at your day job' that mattered. And given the number of unemployed that the virus is going to throw at us, we may well again all wish we were good at our day job.

It was also about producing physical things. Today is about financial black magic and sentiment.

Exactly, but what is the difference between Victorian Times and post 1970's? Well the USA ditched the Gold Standard In August 1971 when Nixon severed the direct convertibility of U.S. dollars into gold and we turned into a fiat currency based world. Money that is printed out of thin air/created by adding zeros to a ledger and backed by nothing. Ergo, you buy hard assets, such as houses, or invest in the stock market to get returns on your savings. Holding cash these days is worthless.

Funny how the 1970's coincided with Nixon defaulting on the gold standard - and where debt became the new money

18
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"eye watering amounts of debt that could not have been contemplated even a few years back are now doable".

Orr and the RBNZ are trading the whole financial stability of NZ for the dubious advantage of being able to kick the can a little bit longer. In their increasingly desperate efforts to sustain the ultimately unsustainable housing Ponzi, they are in clear breach of the RBNZ official mandate to ensure a sustainable and sound financial system. A King Cnut and the tide scenario indeed.

Dreadful opinion piece which misses some crucial points related to the NZ economy and debt profile.

Personally, I don't have a mortgage - and can I say I'm delighted to be in that position at the moment - but generally my view is always that you pay the mortgage first and worry about little luxuries like eating somewhere down the track.

Hargreaves doesn't understand the NZ economy then. If everyone was living on pot noodles and not consuming the 'nice to have' FMCG products, the economy would be in a terrible shape. NZ business in general is built around the premise of adding value for profit margin. Moreoever, NZ is a 'high-cost' economy so there is every incentive for prices to be high. The economy relies on incremental spend and trading up. Now that the tourists are gone, that incremental spend and trade up occasion is more vital than ever before.

The amounts borrowed are getting ever larger, but the interest rate impost is getting lower and lower. So, eye watering amounts of debt that could not have been contemplated even a few years back are now doable.

Very one-dimensional thinking. Debt can be 'free', but if you don't have any income to service or repay something, this is definitely not 'doable.' That reality of not having income should be top of mind. And savings should have been a priority for many over eyewatering debt.

A 30 year mortgage borrowing $750k at 1.99% works out to a monthly payment of $2768. If people cancel sky and don't eat smashed avocado on toast once a week they will easily cover that monthly payment.

10
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How much can the household collect from combined welfare benefits if no one is working? Is that enough to pay the $2768 per month and live?If one person in the household loses their income and they can't qualify for welfare due to partner income. Can they still make the $2768 payment and live. When the COVID juice finally runs out and reality finally has to set in there will be roosting chickens everywhere.

that's only if interest rates don't go up. are we now in the world of house prices always increase, and interest rates always drop? wow.

(disclosure: want to buy, but far too nervous with some of the money being splashed about right now)

11
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For a reasonable 7% interest rate (like what we saw in the early 2010s) it's a mere $4989 per month. That increase could easily be covered by finding a $20 note in the street.

Maybe if that $20 note was a collectors item printed in 1918 or something.

Or a pre-1933 US gold coin.

Try the 21% we paid in the early 1980's! It's not that long ago!

In Auckland?
With one job gone?
Bit of a generalisation

I dunno. Perhaps checking the math on the monthly cost of Sky plus $80 of smashed avocado per month costing over $2700 would be a starting point. Then at 7% interest a $20 note being enough to cover a payment increased by $2200. Could there be some exaggeration?

The monthly payment stated would need an annual income of around $50k just to cover the mortgage. You're talking a household income of $150k to maintain that and have some sort of life. That's top 10% of incomes or thereabouts.

I thought that was a parody/sarcastic comment at first. But I guess not. Back to the tired "if Millennials stopped wasting money on food" cliches, even more tired than a "OK Boomer" reply.

A mortgage is always more serious than just stopping eating at restaurants, even though the article suggests otherwise. Even this site uses 40% of income on a mortgage payment as the limit of affordability. I think 40% of someone's income is a major expense rather than minor.

You still lose growth drivers from the economy: much spending now has been enabled because people were able to pay off their affordable houses in their 40s, 50s or 60s, freeing up more income to recirculate through the economy. Changing mortgage measures from 25 years to 30 years and reducing the likelihood of early repayment removes that money that would otherwise circulate.

Saving for a large deposit for a house kills growth too. What are people going to need to save? Will it be $100k or $200k. Then add on potential negative interest rates to eat away at a deposit that needs to be saved over 10 years or more. It kind of looks like killing growth to save the financial system, or even to bail out retirees.

There's a lot heap of money not circulating in the current and future environment. Add in a possible deleveraging and there's even more problems.

Killing growth to preserve their own portfolio wealth. They obviously should not be expected to stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for their own risks taken.

You're quite right too. Young people have no reason to get out there and spend more. They don't have the wealth in the country.

Its still 30 years of Debt slavery. And its still 750k.

Unemployment is the data to watch out.

If unemployment remains below 10% Will be bad but anything above 10% will be disaster and each percentage above 10% will play havoc.

So can say that as of now with low interest rate and stimulus housing market is nhot but will it remain once the stimulus are over (If virus spreads though will be bad for health but will have more stimulus to delay the fallout in short term).

As of today everyone is riding the housing and stock bubble and the very thought that it can burst does not even cross the mind of most but normally bubble and in this case hyper bubble normally burst when no is expecting and than all news/experts Will come out with reasons /justification of the bust just like supporting the bubble today.

The last unemployment figures were 4%. The various schemes and support mechanisms are concealing the true state of the economy. Plenty of businesses are pulling through, but it's the ones that aren't that are going to affect us the most.

I dont think it's just Ue. Anecdotally I'm hearing of a lot of friends who have taken wage cuts and are working reduced hours. It all adds up.

Stuart - current unemployment is 4%, representatives of the tourism/hospitality claim 400,000 in industry and 300,000 will lose their jobs over time. every 27,800 unemployed is 1% more unemployed so 14% is possible and that assumes no other industry sheds jobs - Cameron Bagrie posed 20% as a realistic top and it doesn't seem impossible. My pick for the downward roller coaster of unemployment starts late Jan 2021 when elections in NZ/USA & other countries plus Christmas are over, happy to be proved very wrong.

"When you add in the numbers of customers who varied payments, reduced them, or went interest only, that actually gave you a total of 16% of mortgages that were affected. It's a lot."

Indeed it is a lot. And it's that high despite the wage subsidy tap still gushing away.

Let's see what it looks like in six months when the proverbial has made contact with the blades of the fan.

Why would one go for a mortgage deferral ? Its obvious they are stuck with something they cannot afford.Mortgage deferral is at best, a band-aid.What when it runs out??

Retail mortgage rates might be <1% by the time your deferral is up so yippee you can now afford it. Thanks Mr Orr. Alternatively they could sell before their deferral is up to another sucker who cannot afford it. Thanks Banks.

Who's to know when it will run out? I was under the impression it was a 6 month "holiday", but alas, the RBNZ had other ideas....

Article is missing a key factor: Mortgages at 2.x% are now cheaper than rent in a lot of the country, and will continue to be as we sink into the 1.x% range.

And in a lot of ways if you lose your job, you are in a much better situation with a mortgage deferral than you are if you are renting (your landlord isn't going to give you a 6 month rent deferral).

Think about the banks getting no cash flow. Negative interest rates could end up being used to try to bail out the banks.

works both ways, rents will have to decline t meet the market

You’re right that rents ‘should’ decrease but private investors are not banks and I don’t see it happening with such high demand.

Already happening in some size in QT. Auckland may take a while but I'd imagine it will happen to a lesser extent.

A well-considered article.

The RBNZ say people can't hold personal/business accounts with them because the Aussie owned banks allocate capital better.

Perhaps it's time for Orr to step down?

Very strange times indeed Gecko on one hand protecting debt on the other promoting? Either way the economies contracting; reduced incomes, increased living costs including taxes.

"Personally, I don't have a mortgage - and can I say I'm delighted to be in that position at the moment"
Interesting comment David why is that? If you took out a mortgage a few years ago at 5 % and were to renew it today at 2.5% I imagine you would be very happy.
You also seem to contradict yourself (unless you think your job at Interest is not secure). "So, if you do think you are going to keep your job, getting a mortgage - even if you have to borrow a lot - might not seem like such a bad idea."
And finally you conclude: "What I would say is that in five years' time people will be looking at a rising housing market - with shortages - and those who have bought will be happy."
So I ask again, why are you delighted to be in a position of not having a mortgage?

I don't know, maybe because David realises that having a $500k mortgage over your head whilst the bank is breathing down your neck for arrears is as much fun as licking a used razor blade? The word "seem" is the keyword here, maybe David is implying that just because it seems like a good idea to currently mortgage yourself to the hilt due to low-interest rates, doesn't necessarily mean it is a good idea? My 2 cents, I'm sure David can answer for himself, however.

My 2 cents, I'm sure David can answer for himself, however.

Yes, but the 'I'm alright Jack' attitude is wrong-headed. Just because you've paid off a mortgage is no comfort if the value of that property is 50% lower than what it was in the past.

It's a lot less comfortable having significant debt to compound the negative equity.

For sure. But my point is that nobody gets out alive. It's not as if people have a Sharesies solution to realize their gains.

Well if David did share your view of "house prices are going to crash" then why does he state:

"So, if you do think you are going to keep your job, getting a mortgage - even if you have to borrow a lot - might not seem like such a bad idea."
"What I would say is that in five years' time people will be looking at a rising housing market - with shortages - and those who have bought will be happy.

Not directly related but would like others feedback. Today an acquaintance told me his mainland Chinese mother in law has been siphoning a lot money into his wife's and his bank accounts (over time to get around the laws in China preventing large amounts of money being off shored).
They in turn have opened accounts for their children and been spreading money into those accounts.
The mother in law has her daughter (NZ Resident) looking to buy an investment property here under the daughters name currently.
Question:
1 How does/can the FBB prevent this?
2 How much of this is going on do people think?

I had an acquaintance with similar story - $4m sent from China to the now resident family member - bought 4 AKL houses.
That was before the FBB, but I don't think the FBB would make any difference since it was the NZ resident who did the buying.
Money gets what it wants.

AML laws should in theory catch this because you have to show where the money came from.

No. Once it's here its's here.

1) Don't know, but hope it can. So sick of this situation.
2) Lots.

So NZ is finally going to enjoy 1% mortgage rates like Germany & other countries.
Testing at 6.5%seems ridiculous in the current global environment

I hear this phrase 'crippling debt' or 'crippling national debt' a lot nowadays. I have always agreed with the term but am starting to think that it is becoming misleading? I don't like debt and I don't have debt (very old fashioned I know!) and have always though it was the 'right' thing to do. It seems now though that maximum debt is more and more being seen as just a part of life, nothing to be concerned about as interest rates will never go up. If you can increase your borrowing to maintain your lifestyle or buy another property you do so, it's a no brainer. No one is being 'crippled' that I can see (borrowers anyway), except maybe the renters, the low income earners....oh and the next generation who don't have wealthy parents?

Government can see how many homeowners who are behind payment in their mortgage are property investors. I guess, that is the biggest lot.
taxpayers' money will used to bail out over leveraged property investors. we have seen this movie before and we know how it ends.

Mortgage. From the Latin I believe....... death-cage!! Go figure!