In December 2019, New Zealanders borrowed $6.5 billion – up nearly $1.2 billion compared with December 2018. And at 18.5 per cent, first-home buyers moved to a new record high share of the amount borrowed.
Investor activity in the market is also showing signs of life, although their current 19.9 per cent share of the total advanced is sitting well below the 35 per cent levels seen before tough loan-to-value (LVR) rules were introduced in 2016.
Back then, investors were required to find 40 per cent deposits, but the LVR lending restrictions for investor loans have since been eased to 30 per cent. And after the Reserve Bank’s decision in late November to keep the LVRs unchanged – out of concern that low interest rates could fuel excessive risk-taking – it’s unlikely they will be relaxed further in the foreseeable future. Instead, some believe that RBNZ may even consider tightening the rules again, especially now that mortgage figures and house price data are pointing to a stronger property market.
Where to from here? All cards are on the table, and it’s hard to tell whether the housing market will take off again or go flat. Either way, as interest.co.nz’s David Hargreaves puts it, it will be interesting to watch.
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