Officials paint gloomy picture

Government officials have produced a gloomy outlook for the property market for incoming Minister of Housing Phil Heatley.

Wednesday, December 17th 2008, 12:00AM

by The Landlord

The official forecast is  - at it was before the election – still that house prices will fall 11% from last year’s peak and stay low over the coming year.

But that is on the optimistic side, says the report. This is more than a market downturn, say officials – it is a much more serious “adjustment shock”.

“This downturn differs from previous property market adjustments in that it is not associated with negative net migration or an oversupply of housing,” says the report.

“The reduction in prices and activity levels has also been much sharper and larger than most forecasters expected.

“These factors – along with feedback from industry on their decisions and expectations, and the trend direction of market indicators – suggest a high risk of continued strong negative movement in sector activity (i.e., prices, volumes and employment levels). “

In summary, says the advice, “the speed and scale of the downturn in the industry suggest that we may be facing a larger adjustment shock than a normal downturn at the end of the property cycle.”

Officials are working on ways to boost investment into the market because they believe over the medium term housing shortages are likely.

On the agenda – and not sketched out in any detail to the minister – are proposals to lift investment by institutional and community groups into long term rental housing; a ‘development fund’ aimed at removing barriers to preparing land for development; and further government purchase of land for affordable housing.

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