Mortgagee sales losing appeal

By Teuila Fuatai

1 comment

Mortgagee sales are no longer a novelty for property buyers, a Tauranga real estate agent says.

LJ Hooker principal Neville Falconer said interest in mortgagee sales had steadily declined.

"They are not attracting the same amount of interest as they were in the past because there are more of them," he said.

Data published by Terralink showed 14 forced home sales occurred in the three months to September in the Western Bay - almost a quarter of the 53 sales in the previous three-month period.

"The type of buyer that would usually buy mortgagee sale property would be a buyer that would have a little more appetite for risk than normal, and they haven't been as prevalent as we have seen," Mr Falconer said.

During the first quarter of the year, 30 mortgagee sales were recorded in the Western Bay.

Perks of buying a property forced into sale were also limited, Mr Falconer said.

"The bank only has security over the title, therefore chattels are not fixed on to the title.

"The physical property is fixed on to the title ... but the bank has no security over the curtains, carpet, blinds and those kinds of things."

Mr Falconer said a few unlucky homebuyers had turned up to find their houses stripped of carpet and other chattels.

However, Realty Services chief executive Ross Stanway said interest in mortgagee sales had remained strong, even though the number of such sales had dropped recently.

"People have a perception that they'll be getting something at a good value because of the circumstances."

However, forced sales did not always sell at discounted prices, he said.

"Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't."

A decrease in the number of mortgagee sales from one quarter to another did not constitute a trend, but after three years of a "reasonably steady flow" Mr Stanway said he would expect the numbers to start falling.

Nationally, forced sales decreased significantly between the September and June quarters.

In the three months to September, 516 mortgagee sales were recorded, compared to 605 in the three months to June.

Year-on-year data also revealed the number of mortgagee sales had declined - down from 651 in the September 2011 quarter.

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said the numbers were encouraging.

Forced sales made up about 3 per cent of total house sales in the September quarter, he said.

"When the economy was very weak, we were looking at around five per cent of house sales."

Lower numbers reflect a recovering economy, he said.

"Things are gradually getting better but it's still relatively weak to what the housing market was in 2007 at the peak of the economic cycle."

Forced sales constituted less than one per cent of total houses being traded on the market during this time, Mr Eaqub said.

Terralink data showed average annual mortgagee sales were 477 for 2006 and 2007, but the number of annual forced sales climbed to 1303 and 3024 in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

As the economy improved, the housing market should pick up - particularly as mortgage rates were low, Mr Eaqub said.

In total, 1645 mortgagee sales took place in the nine months to September - slightly fewer than the previous year's nine-month sales total of 1658.

Regional figures showed Manawatu and East Cape had the largest increase in mortgagee sales between quarters.

The East Cape region jumped 137 per cent - from eight sales in the June quarter to 19 in the September quarter.

In the Manawatu region, forced sales increased by 28 per cent.


Forced sales in 2012 by quarter

Tauranga City

Jan-March: 21

April-June: 42

July-September: 8

Western Bay of Plenty

Jan-March: 9

April-June: 11

July-September: 6

Western-Bay total

Jan-March: 30

April-June: 53

July-September: 14


Jan-March: 524

April-June: 605

July-September: 516

- Terralink

- Bay of Plenty Times

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