Business / Housing

New ANZ report says continuing house price rises 'doesn't add up'

16:52 pm on 15 December 2020

ANZ Bank is calling for big, bold and urgent action to douse an overheated and unsustainable housing market.

ANZ's report said any change would need political buy-in (file image). Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

In its latest monthly report on the property market, the bank warned house prices could be due for a correction in the new year if they continued to rise at the current rate.

"Continued monthly house price rises of 3 percent in the context of zero income growth just doesn't add up," the report says.

"We have pencilled in a wobble in the market next year as affordability and credit constraints are felt, loan-to-value restrictions bite, and a softer economy (including weak migration and income strains) becomes evident."

The Reserve Bank had fielded the brunt of the criticism for fanning the flames in the housing market, with the injection of cheap credit into the economy and by lifting loan to value restrictions on banks.

However, cheap and easy money was not the only reason for pushing prices through the roof.

The fervent demand for houses, combined with a lack of supply were longstanding issues, which contributed to house price inflation.

ANZ also said media reports had contributed to a fear of missing out, which had propelled prices higher, as people expected house prices would continue to rise.

A solution?

The bank's solution to problem was multifaceted.

"Broadly, we need to release land, build more houses, and better align supply and demand settings," the report said.

"The heart of the issue of housing unaffordability is that not enough homes have been built to meet the growth in our population, and housing supply has not been sufficiently responsive to changes in demand, financial conditions - and price.

"The most effective way to reduce the attractiveness of property investment is to reduce the scope for capital gains by increasing supply."

The report said any change would need political buy-in.

"Specifically, we - homeowners, local and central government and the general public - need to be willing to accept a lack of capital gains in housing, or even be willing to stomach a fall in our asset values, while incomes catch up."

It acknowledged the outcome would not happen overnight.

"Sure, it's complicated and some aspects of the response may take time, but doing nothing simply isn't an option. The need for action is urgent. There's potential for meaningful change, but we must act now."