Housing affordability falls 14.1%

Home affordability is heading for uncharted territory with Auckland topping the list of least affordable regions, followed closely by the Central Otago-Lakes district.

Prof Paul Gallimore, from Massey University's School of Economics and Finance, said in some regions the annual worsening in the affordability index had been kept at single figures.

But the majority of regions were into double figures.

In the year ended November 2014, houses across New Zealand decreased in affordability by 14.1%.

The fall in affordability was driven, in roughly equal measure, by rising house prices and increased borrowing rates.

A 0.46% increase in interest rates, coupled with a more than $30,000 rise in the national median house price, far outstripped the $19.35 increase in the average weekly wage.

''What this means is a progressively higher slice of people's income is needed to fund home buying. This tends to bite harder at first-home buyers, and is especially the case in Auckland.''

Both Auckland and Central Otago-Lakes experienced steep house price rises in the

September to November quarter, he said.

Auckland sat at 40% above the national median, while Central Otago-Lakes was now 39% more unaffordable than the national average.

Otago's affordability is 61% below the national average.

''If you look at only the last quarter, hikes in prices have really dominated, with around 85% of the change in the national index over that period due to this factor.''

Prof Gallimore expected housing affordability to continue to worsen in 2015 and, in Auckland's case, it might reach levels not seen since the GFC.

Although Auckland's affordability score still remained below the peaks seen in 2007-08, its current trajectory suggested it might soon return to or exceed those levels.

Even without further price rises a 1% rise in interest rates, without substantial wage increases, would put it on par with 2007-08 levels.

The Home Affordability Report showed in some regions the annual worsening was confined to single figures: Wellington (7.6%), Taranaki (7.1%) Nelson-Marlborough (5.5%) and Southland (7.5%). In all other regions, there were double figures: Manawatu-Wanganui (18.8%), Auckland and Hawkes Bay (both 16.4%), Otago-Lakes (15.4%), Waikato (13%), Canterbury (12%), Otago (11.5%) and Northland (10.5%).

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