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House prices show double-dip

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, November 12th, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: Economy, housing - Tags: , ,

House prices are a pretty good indication of how the economy is going. They rose rapidly in the 2000s, stalled in 2007, plummeted in 2008, and made a slight recovery in 2009. But now they’re heading downward. The median house price is over 16%, adjusted for inflation, below the peak in late 2007 and I reckon they’ve got a long down way to go yet.

Houses are still way over valued as you can see from these graphs: the inflation-adjusted median price from REINZ and the total value of housing divided by the total incomes of households from the Reserve Bank.

It’s remarkable how few houses are selling. This October’s house sales were the lowest since at least 1992 when the records begin. People are staying put because they can’t afford to realise losses on their properties and no-one can afford to buy at the prices those who do sell are insisting on with real incomes falling and unemployment still far too high.

There may be another element. In the US, banks are not foreclosing on delinquent mortgages for fear of having to realise the losses on their books and because they don’t want to place even more properties on a sinking market, forcing the prices even lower and putting more of their customers underwater. The Reserve Bank says our banks have $6 billion in non-performing loans (ie. they’re not being paid back). Nearly 1.5% of mortgages are not being paid, up from less than 0.5% in 2008 and still climbing. Mortgagee sales account for 5% of all sales compared to 0.5% three years go but are the banks holding back on forcing more of them for fear of depressing the market even further?

There’s not a hell of a lot that can be done to avoid this. We let the bubble grow, now it’s got to deflate. And there’s still a long way to go.

The crucial thing is that we don’t let investment in new housing and housing improvements dry up, as they naturally will with falling house prices. This is where the government needs to lead with a big programme of eco-smart State House building to keep our builders in work and improve the quality of our housing stock for decades to come.

On a side note, I looked at the decreases in house price by decile. All the deciles are at their lowest levels since the peak except the top decile, which is up 4% from its low point. It is also down the least from its peak of any decile. Which give you an idea of who has weathered the economic crisis the best, although even the resurgence in that top decile seems to be faltering.

14 comments on “House prices show double-dip ”

  1. Bunji 1

    This is where the government needs to lead with a big programme of eco-smart State House building to keep our builders in work and improve the quality of our housing stock for decades to come.

    This is precisely why you don’t want a Do Nothing government in a recession. We (the economy, building industry, and for environment/health reasons) so need this.

    Good post Marty.

    • insider 1.1

      What’s the bets it’s a leaky one and doesn’t work quite the way intended…a bit like the HMNZS Otago

    • Jim Nald 1.2

      “a Do Nothing government in a recession”

      We’ve been seeing the past two years of Jonkey and Bill English mismanaging the economy, wasting opportunities to rebuild the economy, and misjudging priorities with their cuts. VTBO!

  2. ropata 2

    Screw the housing market at the moment. I am just renting and putting $$ in the bank, not paying inflated prices and getting stuck in a giant mortgage. We do need more quality basic housing in this country not the flashy expensive developments that the property gurus love. Also we need skilled tradesmen here to avoid another stupid leaky homes fiasco, so I support state housing. Where’s VTO these days?

  3. “House prices plummet” can also be headlined as “Housing affordability rises”.

    Anyone who “invested” in inflated property, hoping to benefit from the (mostly artificially created) shortage of housing by bleeding workers (and taxpayers, if their tenant is a beneficiary) deserves what they have coming.

    I’m not sure if they do it in NZ but I’m heartily sick of all the TV “current affairs” show “success story” pieces on people who’ve bought investment properties leveraged off the back of other investment properties, own 20 houses and are now multi-millionaires (on paper, at least), do no work and net a few thousand dollars a week.

    This is constantly promoted as something to which everyone should aspire, with no thought whatsoever to the interest rate pressures this produces; to housing affordability for those on low incomes; to the drying up of capital that is desperately needed by the productive sector; and to what would happen if everyone did decide to become a non-working property magnate.

    If the greedy dumped their investment properties then private debt levels would reduce, which would also be a good thing. That’d be the time for the government to exercise a bit of foresight and simply buy state housing stock (though I agree building them, to keep the building industry going, is also a wise suggestion).

    • Vicky32 3.1

      Exactly. Reality shows are either about cooking, dating or house renovations! Sick to death of it.

  4. Good post MartyG

    I have had Sovereign basically confirm what you are saying. They are urging home owners in trouble to sell privately because if there is a rush of mortgagee sales on the market then Sovereign’s security will decrease dramatically in value.

    We need leadership that will manage a soft landing. Right now we have leadership that has its head in the sand and will guarantee a crash landing.

    • Nick K 4.1

      I don’t believe commentary like that micky that Sovereign gave you.

      It means that there can be such a dump of houses on the market that it actually sets the market. That can’t happen. Housing isn’t liquid enough, and there are not enough houses that can be dumped to set the market.

    • Herodotus 4.2

      Review my link below and when did this house crazy commence and what measures were put into place to min the harm of when the crash really occurs, The adjustment for me should have ocurred in 04/05, the delay for the 1st trip of another 3 years just means that when the real adjusment hits (If it does) it will be very hard. And the honerable Nat govt (less2 ministers !!) has commenced with some management of the issue re tax (Where M.Cullen feared to go), but this is only the start. Another issue that has and will have an impact is immigration, cross ref the increase in houseing with the peak of immigration 45k immigrations p.a.. Curently the only thing that could “save” building is immigration (paradox) yet this is also the aspect that will delay or stop this adjustment, and bring back housing costs back by 20%. Hate to see an adjustment as there will be a huge no of Kiwis in real troble that we have not seen in any of our lifetimes (And hopefully will not) . Yet there is again no one in power that has the foresight to plan and manage an adjustment, and inform us as to the measures and what outcomes are expected and why these are not as bad as if left for the markets on device.
      But keep smiling Mickey and hope your new venmture is goijng well 😉

  5. Herodotus 5

    So currently property developers are only making enough to cover finance costs, spec builders are selling houses at cost (If they are fortunate). there are 14k of houses being built (Height 28k). We have crap town planners that view development as if it was an undergrad project built on a 2 dimension landscape, stuff reality and topographic nature of the land.
    Central govt e.g. Transit have gone missing expecting developers to cover motorway additions, local bodies expecting developers/builders to cover infrastructure costs, i.e. subsidising rate increases. As mentioned on another post 10k of new houses contributes over $500m in GST alone.
    Thanks to the lack on magangement of our housing development (In allowing price to go way beyond and rational logic) , we have allowed for an essestial industry to become marginal. Hobsonville scheme plans based on 250- 330m2 sections. Houses built with no garages and limited on-street parking (This development being touted by both Lab and Nat as the way to go) More crap being sprewed by those inpower.
    See how a plan change process works or doesn’t then you see the lack of co-hesion of what the ratepayer/resident wants to that of a disconnected council.
    review page 8 house prices vs weekly wage currently 7 yrs to pay off a house. I am still amazed that when the trend was spiking those in charge just sat on their hands allowing many to have a false feel good of how rich they were and those who did not own a house to become even more dejected as to how to fulfill the Kiwi dream.
    I agree AMrty House prices do need adjustment, yet where is the ability for this to happen without a: House owners having negative equity (Banks will not foreclose as long as the mortagages are being paid) and without the industry comming to a screaming halt with the ramifactions that will result in?

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