Mortgage Affordability, Winter 2010

Two areas we are talking about here, Affordability and Banks easing up at high LVR’s. Specifically 90% advances much easier so maybe…. With Mortgages more affordable and 90% advances becoming easier, now is a great time to buy…

This is my take on a couple of recent articles, however what most ‘pundits’ seem to miss is that property should always be a long term investment and everyone actually does need somewhere to live!

Mortgage affordability is set to improve through July/August as average two year mortgage rates have dropped slightly so house prices are expected to remain stable.

The national average house price rose 0.7 per cent to NZ$352,500 in June from May, which is down around $8,000 from the record high in March.

Our Affordability Report measures affordability nationally and regionally, taking into account house prices, interest rates and incomes.

Affordability improved significantly in Auckland, Northland and Queenstown as house prices dropped, but worsened in Christchurch where prices rose.

Southland, Otago and Manawatu/Wanganui were in the best position whilst the Central Otago Lakes region continues to be the least affordable.

Levels of affordability hit in early 2007, near the peak of the housing boom, were at their worst as interest rates were a lot higher too. People still bought and sold property!

In other words now is a pretty good time to buy.

Nationally affordability has eased with a mixture of July fixed mortgage rates having dropped and house prices being subdued. These falls in rates are not a result of global price cutting, more local Banks cutting margins.

The Reserve Bank lifted the Official Cash Rate to 2.75 per cent from 2.5 per cent on June 10 and economists expect it to increase it again to 3 per cent on July 29.

Many home owners are still on fixed mortgages, but an increasing number are choosing to float given floating rates at just under 6 per cent are still cheaper than longer term fixed rates at around 7 per cent. Due to reducing medium term fixed rates and the possibility of rising floating rates a lot of people are mixing floating and fixed.

The average 2 year fixed mortgage rate, which has been among the most popular with borrowers in recent years, was flat at 7.19% in June. Since the end of June the average two year fixed rate has dropped to 6.98%, this reduces the monthly cost but not by much.

House sales volumes flattened off in the last three months of 2009 and early 2010 as first home buyers and rental investors stayed away. The OCR hike in June and the May 20th budget moves to remove depreciation as a taxable expense for property investors has seen house sales drop a further 20 per cent during May and June. The reality of the Budget is that 90% of Investors will pay less than $40 a week more in tax and most of this will be passed on in rent hikes. The number of sales is expected to remain flat until Spring so Buyers actively looking can expect to do a ‘deal’. I always advise getting a pre-approval first, this adds to the bargaining power later on.

Affordability is hardest in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Tauranga for those on a single income, but homebuyers in smaller provincial cities will find home ownership much more affordable.

On a positive note I’ve noticed the Banks are easing criteria, particularly in high 80% plus loans, its all depends on track record and servicing. In the last month or so nearly a third of my business has come from the UK or Australia, so maybe they know something……….

Finally regulation was proposed for the Mortgage and Insurance industry, that has now changed (it will NOT be regulated!) but I will be sitting my exams soon to add to those gained in Europe, I still feel its good knowing you are working with a qualified Professional!