13 Nov 2013

Months before loan restriction impacts known

8:06 am on 13 November 2013

Real Estate Institute figures show the national median price rose 2% to $407.525, and Auckland, Canterbury and Waikato regions all had new record medians.

In October, 6778 houses were sold - an increase of 2.1% compared with the same period a year ago.

But on a seasonally adjusted basis, sales fell 4.1% in October compared with the same period a year ago, which the institute blames on the Reserve Bank's restrictions on low deposit loans.

The institute said agents nationwide were finding the uncertainty created by the new lending rules was deterring people from committing to buying or selling.

Restrictions on bank mortgage lending to people with deposits of less than 20% came into effect on 1 October this year.

Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said the central bank's restrictions had had an impact, particularly in the first-home bracket.

"We're hearing that, more than anything else, this is giving people pause for thought," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"In some parts of the country people are finding that open homes are less well attended as people go back to the bank before they go shopping because the pre-approvals that were in place aren't necessarily there, there's a greater sense of needing to have your finance lined up before you go into offers.

"That's leading to some uncertainty for some at auction time, as well."

The number of transactions had fallen but it was not a huge drop, and prices had continued to rise, particularly in Auckland, she said.

"I would expect the impact to be primarily on the volumes as opposed to prices but really it's a wait and see game.

"The demand for property, particularly in Auckland and Christchurch, is such that this is cutting out competition rather than anything else, so perhaps there's only one or two people pursuing a property rather than four or five."