By David Hargreaves
First home buyers last month enjoyed a second straight month with a record high share of the mortgage money handed out by the banks, according to the Reserve Bank's latest monthly borrowing by lender type figures.
In figures that continue to show surprising resilience in the housing market, the FBHs accounted for $700 million of the $4.051 billion advanced in mortgages by the banks.
In percentage terms that was a 17.3% share for the FHBs of all the monies advanced. That's a new record high since the RBNZ started publishing the figures in August 2014 and it just topped the 17.2% share (previous record), which was registered just the previous month, in December.
And while you might immediately wonder if the FHBs are just grabbing a bigger share of a smaller pot - well, actually no.
The $4.051 billion advanced in total in January was the largest total for a January since 2016, when $4.117 billion was advanced.
And it's worth noting that in January 2016 the FHBs borrowed just $459 million, which was only 11.1% of the total and some $241 million (34.4%) less than the amount the same grouping borrowed last month.
In January 2018 the FHBs borrowed $564 million, so last month's total was $136 million, or 24.1% higher.
For those who like to look at how many mortgages/people these figures mean, rather than just looking at the dollars, in the latest January there were 1771 mortgages taken out by FHBs, compared with 1398 in January 2018 - so, that's a 26.7% increase.
As stated higher up, the overall mortgage total for the January month was the highest for that month since 2016 and was some $355 million up on the amount advanced in January last year. The FHBs accounted for 38.3% of the increase.
The latest figures continue to show a subdued picture for investors - though here the waters have been somewhat muddied by the recent decision of one of the major banks to reclassify some mortgages from the investor category to owner-occupier category.
Without seeing an individual breakdown of figures, it's hard to exactly quantify the difference that's made, but there was a sharp drop - of around 2-3% - in the share reported as being advanced to investors in the past couple of months.
The latest figures give $726 million as advanced to investors in January, which is down from $779 million in January 2018. Last month the investors made up 17.9% of the total - which was slightly higher than the share of this category in December.
January was the first month of course following the Reserve Bank's loosening of the limits on high loan to value ratio (LVR) lending.
These latest figures, while showing a continuation of recent trends, don't seem to suggest there was an immediate rush for buyers to get in after the loosening of the limits.
However, figures from February onwards will likely give a clearer picture.