5 Mar 2014

Rental investment interest increases

7:55 am on 5 March 2014

A consumer confidence survey shows a jump in interest to buy houses as investments following the Reserve Bank's introduction of low loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions last year.

The Bank of New Zealand's Nine Rewards Consumer Trends Survey shows 7.6 percent of the 553 respondents are now considering buying residential real estate for investment purposes, up from 4.2 percent before the LVRs were introduced on 1 October.

However, the latest monthly review of consumer confidence also notes first-home buyers are being pushed out of the market.

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander said the interest in investing had almost doubled in six months.

"Back then we had 11.9 percent of people all up saying they were thinking about leaving New Zealand in the next 12 months. Now we've only got 7.6 percent," he said.

"So that's quite a decline and it appears consistent with the data we have each month from Statistics New Zealand on migration flows, in particular between New Zealand and Australia, where we've got a massive decline in the number of people going across the ditch and an increase in the numbers coming back."

That was a positive thing for the economy in terms of accelerating population growth but it also meant more pressure on the housing market, Mr Alexander said.

"One of the interesting things we're all looking at at the moment is trying to get a feel for where the housing market will settle following the introduction of the minimum deposit rules from the Reserve Bank back on 1 October last year."

The survey showed confidence in the economy remained high, with 45 percent believing it would improve during the coming year.

As well, many were finding it easier to get jobs or extra hours of work.

But Mr Alexander warned people were not necessarily spending to match increased optimism and income, with many wanting to pay off their debts.

"I don't think retailers should be jumping up and down as of yet, anticipating mega sales," he said.