Property editor of the NZ Herald

Capital Markets: Rebound creates more interest from banks

Ashley Church, CEO of Newmarket Business Association.
Ashley Church, CEO of Newmarket Business Association.

About 80 per cent of residential subdivisions get some or all of their funding from one of the four main banks, one sector chief says.

Ashley Church, Property Institute chief executive, said the remaining 20 per cent comes from a variety of second-tier lenders. "These are businesses such as NZ Mortgage & Security (James Kellow, backed by Mansons TCLM), Newgate Capital (Jared Lynch, backed by Tournament) and Reesby (Martin Reesby).

"Usually one of these will be the main funder -- but sometimes they will provide mezzanine finance, sometimes equity funding, or some times they act as a broker/arranger for one of the main banks," Church says.

Some of the larger land subdivision developers, such as Fulton Hogan, Todds and Fletchers, may not fund on a project-by-project basis but may, instead, have a large debt facility to develop with, he says. That means they don't need formal bank approval to buy, build or sell. "Large iwi are also land developers but debt levels -- whether they fund the project or gear up on investment assets -- are harder to gauge," Church says.

"Occasionally there are offshore funders involved with projects. For example, I'm aware that one of the major banks and an offshore bank are involved with the Sugartree apartment development (in central Auckland), and the Rose Garden apartments in Albany also have one of the Chinese banks involved.

"It would be difficult for the offshore banks to have significant involvement outside a joint venture because scale projects require an experienced team, on the ground, to attend site meetings, cost meetings, and progress updates throughout the build process, and that can't be achieved remotely, Church says.

New greenfields subdivisions have slowed down a bit over the past 12 months, mostly as a response to the loan to value ratio restrictions.

Church says this is compounded by some of the conditions (builders terms) accompanying subdivision projects (for example, where settlement is aligned with completion/on sale of a finished house), which add to the risk profile and make the banks less keen to be involved. "With the recent rebound in prices I think it's likely that confidence will return, but some of the banks may now be a bit more concerned about the longer term projects," he says.

Geographic concentration is also considered a risk. One of the major banks pulled out of a significant Flat Bush land purchase by one of its customers due to having five to six other projects under way in the area.

With the recent rebound in prices I think it's likely that confidence will return, but some of the banks may now be a bit more concerned about the longer term projects.
Ashley Church

Funding of apartment developments has also slowed, generally, on the back of weak sales data earlier this year -- "and this may not recover quickly due to the extent to which the activities of the big four banks are influenced by their Australian parent companies, which are about to go through some pain with an oversupply of apartment projects completing in Sydney, Melbourne," Church says.

- NZ Herald

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