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Property investment leaves New Zealand vulnerable

New Zealanders’ high investment in property rather than local businesses leaves the economy more vulnerable to shocks and constrains the country’s growth prospects, according to Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard.

Friday, November 10th 2006, 10:00AM

by The Landlord

Speaking to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Annual Tax Conference in Auckland recently, Bollard said New Zealand investors’ preoccupation with housing assets has been at the expense of other assets normally found in household portfolios, such as equities.

The gap has been filled by foreign equity, which brings many development advantages for large businesses, but is less conducive to supporting start-ups and other small businesses.

Holdings of equity by New Zealand households are particularly low by OECD standards, with direct holdings of both domestic and foreign equities making up no more than about 4% of total assets.


“Instead, New Zealanders have spent heavily on investor housing – houses and apartments beyond their own homes – investments stimulated by expectations of exciting capital gains rather than exciting rental yields,” Bollard said.

This exposure to housing is being financed by increased mortgage debt from the banking system. The average New Zealand household’s debt has risen from around 100% of disposable income to around 170% over the last five years, imposing a heavier mortgage-servicing burden.

“The typical household now commits about 13% of its disposable income to service debt. This makes these households much more vulnerable than they used to be to adverse events, such as increases in unemployment and rising interest rates. These debt servicing rates are significantly higher than in other OECD countries,” he said.

“For the country overall, this preference for housing investment and debt has worsened the current account deficit and substantially increased net foreign claims on New Zealand. Our foreign debt means we are inevitably more exposed to changes in global interest rates or sudden shifts in the investment preferences of overseas investors. At times, this can make it more challenging to maintain price stability and avoid unwanted swings in economic activity. This pattern of household investment also impacts economic performance.”

« Property investors refocus on cash flowImmigration boosts population to 4.15 million »

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Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
AIA 4.55 ▼2.29 ▼2.59 ▼2.65
ANZ 4.44 2.89 3.25 3.39
ANZ Special - 2.29 2.69 2.79
ASB Bank 4.45 2.29 2.59 2.65
Bluestone 3.49 3.34 2.99 3.34
BNZ - Classic - 2.29 2.59 2.79
BNZ - Mortgage One 5.15 - - -
BNZ - Rapid Repay 4.60 - - -
BNZ - Std, FlyBuys 4.55 2.89 3.19 3.39
BNZ - TotalMoney 4.55 - - -
CFML Loans 4.95 - - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
China Construction Bank 4.49 4.70 4.80 4.95
China Construction Bank Special - 2.65 2.65 2.80
Credit Union Auckland 5.45 - - -
Credit Union Baywide 5.65 3.95 3.85 -
Credit Union South 5.65 3.95 3.85 -
First Credit Union Special 5.85 2.95 3.45 -
Heartland Bank - Online 2.50 1.99 2.35 2.45
Heretaunga Building Society 4.99 3.50 3.40 -
HSBC Premier 4.49 2.25 2.35 2.65
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
HSBC Special - 1.99 - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
ICBC 3.69 2.25 2.35 2.65
Kainga Ora 4.43 2.79 3.04 3.13
Kainga Ora - First Home Buyer Special - 2.25 - -
Kiwibank 3.40 3.20 3.50 3.50
Kiwibank - Offset 3.40 - - -
Kiwibank Special 3.40 2.35 2.65 2.65
Liberty 5.69 - - -
Nelson Building Society 4.95 3.20 3.24 -
Pepper Essential 4.79 - - -
Resimac 3.39 3.35 2.99 3.35
SBS Bank 4.54 2.79 2.79 3.15
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
SBS Bank Special - 2.29 2.29 2.65
Select Home Loans 3.49 3.34 2.99 3.34
The Co-operative Bank - First Home Special - 2.09 - -
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.40 2.29 2.59 2.79
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 4.40 2.79 3.09 3.29
TSB Bank 5.34 3.09 3.29 3.45
TSB Special 4.54 2.29 2.49 2.65
Wairarapa Building Society 4.99 3.55 3.49 -
Westpac 4.59 3.09 3.29 3.39
Westpac - Offset 4.59 - - -
Westpac Special - 2.29 2.69 2.79
Median 4.55 2.79 2.99 2.80

Last updated: 26 February 2021 11:27am

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