Interest.co.nz's latest home loan affordability reports show challenge toughening for would-be 1st home buyers in Auckland and the Waikato, easing in much of the rest of NZ

By Greg Ninness

First home buyers in Auckland and the Waikato would have found it a little more difficult to get into their own homes at the end of last year while those in the Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Canterbury would have found it a little bit easier, according to interest.co.nz's Home Loan Affordability Reports for December.

The reports show affordability improved in six regions and worsened in six regions last month, as a combination of slightly lower mortgage interest rates and some fickle price trends produced a mixed bag of results in different regions.

The reports track monthly movements in mortgage interest rates, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand's lower quartile dwelling prices and median net pay for couples working full time, to measure changes in housing affordability throughout the country (all of the individual reports can be viewed by clicking on the links in the box below).

Separate Home Loan Affordability Reports are available for each of the following regions and cities (click to view).
Northland Region
Whangarei District
Auckland Region
Rodney District
North Shore District
Waitakere District
Central Auckland District
Manukau District
Papakura District
Franklin District
Waikato Region
Hamilton District
Bay of Plenty Region
Tauranga District
Rotorua District
Hawke's Bay Region
Napier District
Hastings District
Gisborne District
Taranaki Region
New Plymouth District
Manawatu/Whanganui Region
Palmerston North District
Whanganui District
Wellington Region
Masterton District
Kapiti District
Porirua District
Hutt Valley District
Wellington City
Nelson/Marlborough Region
Nelson City
Canterbury Region
Christchurch District
Timaru District
Otago Region
Dunedin District
Queenstown-Lakes District
Southland Region
Invercargill District
All New Zealand

 An interesting aspect of this month's reports is that lower quartile prices declined or remained unchanged in several areas where the market has been the hottest, such as Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Wellington and Manawatu.

Around the country the REINZ's lower quartile selling prices in December rose compared to November in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Nelson/Marlborough and Otago, and down compared to November in Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Canterbury and Southland. The lower quartile price was unchanged in Manawatu/Whanganui and Wellington.

In Auckland, the lower quartile selling price rose for the fourth consecutive month in December to hit $670,000, which was just $10,000 below its all-time high of $680,000 in March last year.

It was significant that lower quartile prices rose in Franklin and Papakura in the south of the region, where prices have previously been weaker.

The only district within the Auckland region to record a lower quartile price decline in December was Rodney, where it dropped to $690,000 from $770,000 in November, although monthly price movements in Rodney can be quite volatile.

Auckland unaffordable

Overall, Auckland remains the only region in the country where prices are so high they are considered unaffordable for first home buyers, although within the region Papakura and Franklin remain affordable despite last month's price rises.

There was a big jump in the lower quartile price in the Waikato, which hit an all-time high of $400,000 in December, up from $369,000 in November. In the Bay of Plenty the lower quartile price edged back slightly to $435,000 from November's all-time high of $437,000.

In Hawke's Bay the lower quartile price dropped back to $315,000 from November's record high of $324,000. In Taranaki the lower quartile price rose for the fourth consecutive month to $260,000, but remained below its record of $280,469 set in March last year.

Lower quartile prices were unchanged from November in Manawatu/Whanganui and the Wellington regions. In Canterbury it dropped to $347,500 from $350,000 in November.

So overall, price movements in December were a mixed bag and the movements were mostly modest, making it difficult to pick a trend.

However all regions would have benefitted from the slight easing in mortgage interest rates that occurred in December, with the average of the two year fixed rates offered by the major banks declining to 4.72%. That's after they were stuck on 4.78% for the previous three months.

Home Loan Affordability - First Home Buyers

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We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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36 Comments

Lower quartile prices growing in Áuckland¿ Sounds like some doomers have some splaining to do!

Nice one skudiv :) What are your skills like at breathing life into a dead cat? Keep trying....

I suggest the trend is still down especially when its well documented a lot of novice Landlords intend exiting the game. Lets see what Barfoots and Bayleys delivers in the months ahead and how many sellers vs buyers are present next spring.....

No. Retired poppy this time your comment is a dead cat haha 2018 should be on the improve like the economy. People are realising that LGNZF is a toothless tiger and are looking forward to buying a home or investment property

Stick to your guns!!!! Go get em tiger!!!!

Wait for NEXT spring!!!!

Hi skudiv

It just so happens that we invested a couple years ago and have a bit of equity now. Hoping to make a larger rural purchase this year.

What about yourself, what's on the horizon this year?

HW

We are just past the peak of the biggest real estate bubble in history and Houseworks announces exciting plans for his bit of equity. What could possibly go wrong.....?

That's your two cents worth. Thanks Retired-Poppy!

This year we are going to take some money out of the business and do some major renovations to our own house.

Very nice. Hopefully no diy required or if it is then retired-poppy could come out of his early retirement and pitch in

Lower quartile prices growing, can be a sign that almost all potential buyers are priced out of all the higher quartiles. It is one of the "last gasps" of a fatally over-pumped housing bubble.

Hi phil, could it be that first home buyers and / or rental investors are increasing their activity? Cheers

except that they aren't... refer every REINZ & Barfoots report over the last 12m ....

Now the election is out of the way the electorate can breathe again. Admittedly by way of ventilator due to the Lgnzf coalition.

It's simply the difference between affordability and over priced none affordable property. Don't you get it skudiv virtually all the top end buyers are gone.

In the more expensive areas of Auckland prices are having to slowly deflate, look at the figures for Central Auckland according to this report.

"The median house price was $927,000 in December, down from $970,000 last month.
The median house price was $989,000 in December 2016 which puts annual growth at
-6.3%. Five years ago the median was $621,000".

Even for the median house price that's a drop of -$62k in just a year for Central Auckland.

By a huge $8000! wow

"The lower-quartile house price was $670,000 in December. Annual growth was 1.2%, from the $662,000 lower-quartile house price in December last year."

So remind me, what was CPI inflation figure for last year. Oh, 1.6%.. so at 1.2% that makes it a 0.4% loss in inflation adjusted terms. And we haven't even factored in the costs of servicing the mortgage or rates etc yet.

Lets not be dumbd and forget to account for leverage and rent. Or shall we be retarded and only count costs in our income statement?? Huh?

i was looking at from an own vs rent perspective, with 20% equity.

132k equity
35k mortgage payments
$2800 rates

$8000 capital gains

vs 132k in any decent growth equity portfolio returning 10% after tax = $13200
paying $26k in rent (~4% gross yeild), leaving you an extra $11.8k (mortgage + rates - rent) to add to your portfolio.

~$25 -28k gain.

I can't see how twice as much capital tied up to hit the 40% investor LVR makes it any better, the rent returned is about the same as what you would get with the same equity invested in the sharemarket, but you have to deal with tenants, maintain the property etc.

I didn't do the sums for a interest only mortgage, but with only 1.2% capital gains and strong likelihood of it decreasing it seems like a high risk gamble to me. Lots of capital tied up in an illiquid asset with weak returns and high risk.

What's going on with Interest.co.nz?

We have had the release on Monday of the Demographia 2018 report and it's the introduction by The London School of Economics Paul Cheshire and two colleagues. And no mention on Interest.co.nz?

And yet they have had a poor article by the ACC economists and now this on piece on their own measure of affordability.

Please explain!!!

There is a "dark side" on this issue, depending on who is in the pockets of the big rentier zero-sum gainers from the property racket, along with those wearing eco-loony ideological blinkers, and bureaucratic empire-builders, all in an unholy alliance against Joe and Jane Public.

Second that motion, Dale. Plus there's the NZ Initiative report on the Christchurch earthquake sequence and subsequent recovery snafu.

I am rather disheartened by the comment streams, which simply bear out Richard Fernandez' bleak view of social media as a series of self-contained echo chambers.

I'd argue for better moderation, because there's much more heat than light at times, and there is a disconcerting strain of ad-hom and nastiness evident at times. Or maybe that passes as 'Robust'. It does not induce me to read or comment much any more.

That in some key regions house affordability is improving is good news as 2018 gets underway.

TTP

There's no good news when it comes to affordability these days. Only available option to kiwis not on the ladder is massive credit at cheap prices. Whats wrong with that you say, its the way to get ahead, become a news puff piece in the Herald, buy the missus that new shiny Q3. Just need to save or beg for a deposit is all. Its a cedit fueled asset bubble here and the world over. Nothing more, nothing less. Keep quoting supply/demand factors, immigration etc. The sheeple love it. Such a shame we have allowed our wonderful country to become so unaffordable and subject to growth via domestic & offshore credit...household debt is at165%. Think about what that means. More than 07 levels. One day all this credit must be paid back, thats how credit works. With asset bubbles now maxed out theres only one way to do that.

Indeed

Lots of cheap debt sloshing around, everyone in debt up to their eyeballs must be a good thing for NZ John Key and his cronies think so.

All this debt needs to be paid off, less money for goods and services not productive use of money. Its kind of pathetic really.

Also low interest rates for this cheap debt can only last so long, interest rates will rise, it may not be this year, it may not be next year, but as that great philospher Rachel Hunter says in her pantene ads, it will happen.

Thats more unproductive money, and hard times for some people..

That's the sad thing. We went from a country where as a society we made massive efforts to make home ownership accessible to average Kiwis - with that high rate of home ownership achieved as a result by the 1980s - to one where houses are all about investments for those who benefited from that, regardless of the effects on following generations...Was it all just ideological blindness, a belief one never benefited from society and thus had no obligation to pass things on?

Rick, I’m no spring chicken and I struggle to recall the society you mention. That aside, why look back? You have the Government of your choice in power with a pre election promise that everyone would have a home. Even if that was enthusiastic rhetoric, the promise for 100,000 affordable homes is very clear. All that’s standing between you and Nirvana is the Government’s ability to deliver.

If you don't recall the various efforts in housing across NZ's history this is a decent primer that can be read in a single evening. http://bwb.co.nz/books/home-truths It's a good start.

Better a target to actually making houses about homes for NZers again than more of the same from a party that seemed to decline so drastically from its in-going aims and ideals. It was greatly disappointing to see Key go from this to his later cynical pretense that no housing crisis exists.

John Key once had a bit of that historical perspective:

It wasn’t so long ago, in the 1990s, in fact, that New Zealand had a high level of home ownership compared to other countries. Not so anymore. We now have what has been described as the second worst housing affordability problem in the world.

You reckon he thought it was pure coincidence it came after the various efforts across the 20th century? I'd doubt it - he grew up in a state house so he certainly had some awareness of NZ's housing efforts across the decades.

Hi Bluff,

If housing hadn't performed so well as an investment (over many decades) it would not be selling at the prices it achieves today.

You mention cars like that "new shiny Q3". In fact, they're poor investments and eventually depreciate down to nothing!

Better to have money in land (and buildings).

TTP

Maybe the last few years have been a perfect storm, greedy lending from Banks, cheapest debt there has ever been, lax regulation on who buys our houses so lots of overseas buyers, massive immigration, no Capital gains tax, using losses against income, and the list goes on.

What happens when all these factors are addressed.

Hi TTP,

this site and its reports are useless and I wouldn't even bother wasting time on it any further - the reports are now full of twists and language manipulation to give a negative impression that the market is getting worse or will be deteriorating ( may be trying to motivate the toothless tigers to get a bit more aggressive) -

I picked one example because of interest... it says it became less affordable in Waikato for FHBs, lol .... look at the report details 25-30% of take home pay all around Waikato for FHBs !! so it is less affordable than 2016... but it is still Affordable according to their measures <40% ?!!! .....Hence just negative jawboning ..!!

Digging for any negative number or comparision or detail is becoming disgusting really !!
I guess commenting and even reading these reports is a waste of time....

take care

I see you're back to insulting everyone again Eco Bird. Well you can always provide us with evidence to prove that these reports are wrong but you never do do you.

Hi Eco Bird,

I fear there's a great deal of truth in your assertions above.

TTP

"If housing hadn't performed so well as an investment (over many decades) it would not be selling at the prices it achieves today."
Totally agree: housing is selling at such high prices due to previous capital appreciation and expectations of further capital appreciation.... which has far outstripped its fundamental value based on earnings and earnings growth.

Bluff above states that all of the massive amounts of debt sloshing around the world must be paid back. If we keep to current trajectories then we are more likely to see a crash where very little of it is paid back. Exactly how it will enfold I have not a clue but I expect that eventually there will evolve an entirely new paradigm regarding the way our financial world works. Our too big to fail institutions are now too big to survive.

Watched a very interesting video the other day, I suggest everyone watches it as it opens your eyes. Just try and get through the first few minutes, not a great start....its all about our current monetary system.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbvCxMfcKv4

The wonderful new financial paradigm. A decade ago my place was worth over a million btc. About 6 weeks ago it's value had plunged to 100 btc then nearly doubled. Now it's value rises or falls 10% in the time it takes to mow the lawn.