LVR restrictions working but minimal effect on house prices seen

The Reserve Bank seems certain to achieve its primary goal of reducing the proportion of bank lending undertaken at high loan-to-value ratios (LVRs), BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says.

However, the bank's subsidiary goal of curtailing the speed of house price rises might be only minimally achieved.

Releasing the latest BNZ-REINZ residential market survey, Mr Alexander said price pressures in the New Zealand housing market were likely to remain firm next year.

Net migration inflows were booming courtesy of a sharp reduction in the number of New Zealanders shifting to Australia.

''Leading indicators of employment growth are strong and getting stronger and although housing supply is rising, growth will be limited by a shortage of builders from some point next year.''

Last month, the survey showed a net 78% of the 250 responding agents said they were seeing fewer first-home buyers in the marketplace, he said.

In December, the 587 respondents delivered the same result, with a net 77% seeing fewer first-home buyers.

''This wholesale withdrawal of a class of buyers who earlier this year accounted for near 24% of dwelling sales helps explain why the Real Estate Institute sales data for November showed sales to all parties down 6.6% from November 2012.''

This month, agents were asked what proportion of their sales were to first-home buyers.

In contrast to the results of 23.6% in March and 23.3% in May, the proportion was now only 15.3%, Mr Alexander said.

''The residential real estate market has been handed over to investors, foreign buyers and people generally shifting location or trading up or down.''

A net 5.6% of agents reported seeing more investors. Last month, the result was 6%.

A net 16% of agents felt it was now a buyer's market and a net 12.5% felt prices were rising compared with 22.8% last month and 51.2% in September - just before the LVR rules came into effect.

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