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NZ: Housing market to get impacted by the new government - ANZ

The New Zealand’s new Government has made it clear that it believes the country faces a severe shortage of affordable housing, particularly in Auckland, notes the research team at ANZ.

Key Quotes

“We concur. It acknowledges that there is no ‘quick fix’, which we also agree with, but it intends to take a more ‘active’ role in addressing the problem. This includes partnering with the private sector to build 100,000 ‘affordable’ homes including more state housing (half in Auckland), freeing up Auckland land supply, changing the taxation of investor housing, banning foreigners from purchasing existing houses, and bettering the lot of renters by improving the quality of the housing stock. Given that details of the measures proposed are yet to be finalised, the impact is difficult to estimate. But in our view, in aggregate they will at the very least contribute to keeping housing market activity and hence house prices ‘on ice’ for the foreseeable future.”

Property Gauges

There are clear opposing forces impacting the housing market. On the one hand, strong population growth coupled with a challenged supply backdrop argues that a fundamental supply-demand imbalance will continue to drive prices higher. Yet this is going head-to-head with a base in the interest rate cycle, tighter lending standards, LVR restrictions and affordability constraints. If it were all about a demand and supply imbalance, then rents should be rising faster than they are. Political uncertainty adds another layer of caution. We see prices plateauing for now.”

Economic Overview

Our views on the economic outlook have become more nuanced. While we retain a broadly constructive view of the medium-term growth picture, we have turned more circumspect near term, and see a heightened chance of a growth wobble. That wobble is not expected to turn into something longer-lasting, but it certainly marks us out as less upbeat than the likes of the Treasury and RBNZ. Above-trend growth is hard to achieve when the most cyclical part of the economy (housing) looks set to remain soft. We are still biased towards OCR hikes in time. However, the combination of growth only around trend, a soft housing market, but the likelihood of some cost-push inflation is a complicated mix, meaning there are plenty of question marks regarding the timing of hikes.”

Mortgage Borrowing Strategy

It has been another month where average mortgage rates have barely moved, and so it leaves our favoured views broadly unchanged as well. From a “lowest is best” perspective, the 1-year rate still stands out. And this is consistent with our expectation of the OCR being on hold for some time yet. Longer-term rates remain low by historic standards and offer certainty. Some borrowers may wish to spread risk by borrowing over a number of fixed terms. While there are a few more signs that domestic inflation pressures are edging higher, it still does not seem like an environment where the OCR will be increased aggressively.”

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