Banks play hard to get as house sales slump
Difficulty getting finance is being blamed for a slump in house sales.
Excluding Auckland, the number of homes sold in New Zealand fell 10.5 per cent in March compared with the same time last year.
Auckland’s sales fell 18.2 per cent year-on-year but there were still more sales in the city than there had been in four months. Gisborne had the biggest fall, down 33.3 per cent.
Bindi Norwell, Real Estate Institute chief executive, said: ‘‘At a time when sales volumes are normally very strong and total sales figures for the country are typically well over the 7000 mark, with 6938 sales this was the lowest number of properties sold for the month of March since March 2011.
‘‘Despite some extremely competitive mortgage rates on offer from the banks and the high chance of an OCR [overnight cash rate] cut in the
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near future, it appears the legislative changes on the horizon and the difficulty accessing finance are now really starting to impact the housing market in terms of sales volumes.’’
She said 15 of 16 regions had a fall in sales volumes. Only the West Coast saw more houses sell.
Listings were also down in February and March, Norwell said.
Mortgage rates are at historic lows, which would normally be considered a boost to the property market. But broker Glen McLeod said it was hard to get finance deals done.
He said banks were assessing borrowers’ ability to pay rates almost 4 percentage points higher than were currently being offered.
Economists at Infometrics said investors were waiting for more information on things like the potential for a new capital gains tax.
Auckland house prices fell by 2.7 per cent over the year to a median $856,000. Outside Auckland, prices increased 4.5 per in the year to March.