28 Oct 2020

Housing boom could get worse, economist warns

7:55 am on 28 October 2020

Economists are calling on the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to reinstate lending restrictions, warning the housing market is spiralling out of control.

Houses as seen from Mount Eden summit in Auckland, New Zealand.

Photo: Unsplash / Nick Sarvari

In May, the Reserve Bank temporarily removed loan to value ratio (LVR) restrictions, freeing banks to sell mortgages to buyers with small deposits.

Between May and September lending to investors is up 60 percent and last month banks lent out more than $7.3 billion to house buyers - which is an all-time record.

ASB Bank senior economist Mike Jones says the housing market might be too far gone if the LVR pause continues till next May.

He told Morning Report currently it was one-way traffic with low-interest rates and tight housing supply.

"The dropping of LVR restrictions in May has enabled a little more highly leveraged lending to occur than might otherwise."

Jones said back then, it was not anticipated that the country would be in "a deep recession but strangely enough, we've also had a housing boom".

"There is some merit in rolling back to [LVR] restrictions."

He could not say if the changes should come into effect immediately.

"If it [Reserve Bank] did wait until May next year it would risk letting the cat out of the bag ... and the housing boom would get a little bit further away from us."

But, he said, the Reserve Bank should ensure the returning of LVR did not interfere with the mortgage holiday scheme.

Yesterday, Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen said the state of the property market was exacerbating inequality where prices were on the rise as people continued to lose jobs.

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