The number of New Zealand home sales has fallen, as the Reserve Bank’s restrictions on low-equity lending appear to be hitting buyers seeking cheaper properties.
The number of houses sold in November fell 6.6 per cent to 6,691 from the same month a year earlier, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures. Sales were up 2.7 per cent from October, lagging the usual pace of increase.
November is the second month since the Reserve Bank imposed limits on how much banks can lend on housing with a fifth or less of the price paid as a deposit. The figures continue the trend of slowing sales from October.
“As the average increase between October and November over the last 10 years has been more than 10 per cent, this indicates a further softening in sales volumes,” chief executive Helen O’Sullivan said in a statement on Thursday.
“The restrictions on high LVR (loan-to-value ratio) lending may well be a driver of the softer sales figures, with sales below $NZ400,000 ($A368,680.58) falling almost 20 per cent compared to November last year.”
Houses under $NZ400,000 accounted for about 45 per cent of sales in the month.
The central bank will welcome the early signs its policy is biting into demand as it looks to cool markets in Auckland and Christchurch which have been hit with a shortage of supply without having to resort to hiking interest rates.
Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler on Thursday firmed up his stance on hiking interest rates next year, saying the official cash rate is expected to increase 2.25 percentage points over the coming two-and-a-quarter years.
The bank today said it expects house price inflation to persist for slightly longer than previously thought as inbound net migration and low interest rates stoke demand.
The national median sale price rose 4.3 per cent to $NZ425,000, a new record, and was up 11 per cent from a year earlier, with Auckland and Christchurch accounting for about 85 per cent of that gain.
Auckland prices rose 6.5 per cent in November from October to $NZ620,000 and were up 15 per cent from a year earlier. The number of houses sold rose 4.2 per cent 2,794 in November, and were down 4.3 per cent from a year earlier.
Canterbury/Westland sale prices rose 2.6 per cent in November to $NZ389,750 and were up 13 per cent from a year earlier. Sales volumes were down 0.2 per cent to 888 and fell 1.4 per cent from a year earlier.