13 Dec 2013

Signs Reserve Bank lending restrictions are biting

7:00 am on 13 December 2013

A weakness in house sales shown in the latest Real Estate Institute's figures suggest the Reserve Bank's restrictions on lending to people with small deposits are starting to bite.

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Photo: RNZ

In November, 6961 houses sold up 2.7% on the nearly 6778 sold in October but down 6.6% compared with the 7454 sold in November last year.

The institute says sales historically show double digit increases between October and November.

ASB Bank chief economist Nick Tuffley says house sales seem to be falling throughout the country with a 7% drop in Auckland and a 10% fall in Christchurch.

He says although signs suggest that the Reserve Bank's lending restrictions are starting to have an impact, he would be more confident of that if the December figures were just as weak or even weaker.

Mr Tuffley says December and January tend to be softer months, but it should still be possible to get some idea of how well house sales have held up

for that time of year.

He says figures reported by the banks make it clear that the share of high loan to value ratio (LVR) loans has dropped quite quickly.

Mr Tuffley says that suggests that any negative impact of the restrictions should be filtering through relatively quickly.

He says although house prices are still increasing it's expected annual house price growth will peak at the end of this year.

Mr Tuffley expects to see less upward momentum in house prices in 2014.

The institute's figures show house prices rose 1.2% in November to a record and that house prices nationally are now 9.6% higher than in November last year.

The annual increase in Auckland house prices was 14.9% and Christchurch prices were up 12.2%.