Outlook for Queenstown housing market mixed

New figures show the resort is the most expensive place to rent a house in New Zealand. Photo:...
Photo: Guy Williams
Forecasts for the Queenstown housing market are mixed, one veteran property developer predicting the worst economic downturn in his lifetime.

David Broomfield, who has developed more than 800 sections in the Wakatipu in the past 40 years, including the Quail Rise and Closeburn subdivisions, said the whole town was undergoing a "complete reset".

But Arrowtown mortgage broker Mark Pullar has sounded a note of optimism.

He asserted better systems were put in place after the global financial crisis to reduce the impact of another economic hit.

Mr Broomfield suggested a difficult 12-18 months for homeowners, including a "second wave of adjustment" once Government support and mortgage holidays expired.

He further predicted a fall in values as the market became over-supplied, pointing to three post-lockdown sales he was aware of that had been 15-20% below the "pre-Covid-19 value".

Worse still, Mr Broomfield said mortgagee sales were inevitable and young families who had "stretched themselves" financially to build a home with a self-contained unit for Airbnb income would be among the "massive losers . . . through no fault of their own".

Mr Pullar disagreed, claiming mortgagee sales should be a "rarity" provided loan-holders sought advice early.

"It’s important to note that when applying for lending, most people who have had to provide affordability to obtain a home loan have not been able to rely on forecasted Airbnb income to obtain a mortgage."

He said generally they would have proved they could afford repayments "based on 75% of market long-term rent, which is about where rents are landing currently".

Strict loan-to-value restrictions and "increasingly tight, responsible lending criteria" over the past decade meant it had become "very difficult to obtain a loan that might become unaffordable in the future".

These changes, combined with lower interest rates than at the time of the Global Financial Crisis, equated to a "greater buffer for adversity", Mr Pullar said.

The mortgage broker added Government work with the banks to enable "easily obtainable" six-month deferments meant a home loan-holder had up to seven months’ breathing space after losing their main income, before being at risk of a mortgagee sale.

Mr Broomfield and Mr Pullar agreed there was potentially good news for renters.

The former said property investors had already agreed rent reductions of 20%-50%, while Mr Pullar believed the silver lining could be greater "rental affordability"going forward.

They also predict opportunity.

Mr Pullar said there would be a greater supply of "better-priced property for first home buyers", complemented by the Government’s recent decision to remove LVR restrictions.

Expats, he said, may also take the chance to invest back home.

Mr Broomfield said speculators would be looking to capitalise on the difficulties faced by property owners.


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