Decline in investor lending continues

Monday 27 February 2017

Ongoing downward trend in investor lending is exposed by the Reserve Bank’s latest mortgage lending data, which highlights the housing market’s slowdown.

Speculation over whether the now significantly quieter housing market is due to the traditional summer slowdown or the continuing impact of the latest investor focused LVRs is rampant.

Most commentators believe the LVRs have helped to cool the market down and will continue to have some moderating influence.

Now the Reserve Bank has released its latest data and it reveals mortgage lending plummeted across the board in January – but it was largely due to a slump in investor lending.

Total new lending fell to $3.533 billion in January from $5.855 billion in December.

Of that lending, investors were responsible for $961 million, which amounted to around 27% of the total.

It was considerably down from the $1.575 billion they were responsible for in December.

However, lending to both first home buyers and other owner-occupiers also dropped in January, with lending to first home buyers down by nearly half (to $462 million from $809 million).

Higher than 80% LVR lending to investors was also down slightly to $7 million in January, from $9 million in December.

This amount is now significantly lower than it has been in the past. Back in June 2016, it was at $50 million.

But higher than 80% LVR lending to both first home buyers and owner-occupiers was also down.

Not surprisingly, higher than 70% LVR lending to investors declined in January. It came in at $131 million as compared to $213 million in December.

The declining lending trend was highlighted further in the Reserve Bank’s data on the Auckland vs non-Auckland market.

New lending in Auckland fell dramatically for both investors and non-investors in January.

Auckland investors accounted for $685 million as compared to $1.140 billion in December, while Auckland non-investors accounted for $1.025 billion as compared to $1.823 billion in December.

For the second month in a row, non-Auckland lending was also down in January – which provides further evidence of a slower national market.

Non-Auckland lending dropped to $1.823 billion as compared to $2.891 billion in December.

A similar story was told in the Reserve Bank’s lending by payment type data, which looks at interest-only and principal-and-interest loans.

Both interest-only and principal-and-interest loans dropped in January – to $1.190 billion (from $2.062 billion in December) and to $2.342 billion (from $3.793 billion in December) respectively.

Investors were responsible for $476 million of interest-only lending, as compared to $836 million last month.

However, investors’ share of interest-only higher than 80% LVR lending crept up slightly in January. It now equates to just 0.6% of the total, up from 0.3% in December.

Interest-only lending to owner-occupiers was also down (to $693 million), while their share of interest-only higher than 80% LVR lending was also up (to 4.0%) in January.

The Reserve Bank has previously indicated that it feels the LVRs have been successful to date, particularly in terms of improving banks’ balance sheets.

It is likely to take an approving view of the extent to which they now seem to be cooling the once-fevered housing market.

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