Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Target investors, PM tells Reserve Bank

Prime Minister John Key said the Reserve Bank should 'have a look at the question around investors'. Photo / Doug Sherring
Prime Minister John Key said the Reserve Bank should 'have a look at the question around investors'. Photo / Doug Sherring

Prime Minister John Key says the Reserve Bank should consider targeting investors with tough new lending rules.

Speaking after Quotable Value figures for the last three months show property prices rising at their fastest rate since 2004, Mr Key said there was a responsibility for the Bank to "have a look at the question around investors".

Asked if he was keen for the Reserve Bank to consider extending LVRs above the 30 per cent limit in Auckland, Mr Key said, "my own view is [they] should make some movements in that area, yes".

Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Grant Spencer will give a speech on Thursday, and it is expected he could further signal LVRs.

"They haven't given me any signals at all ... it's a double-edged sword - you need investors in the market to make sure there are rental properties," Mr Key said.

"But my sense is potentially one of the risks is you have got people buying rental properties at the moment, borrowing more money but fearful that the Reserve Bank is going to move.

If they are going to make changes, probably they should just get on with it."

In June the Reserve Bank left the official cash rate at 2.25 per cent, with Governor Graeme Wheeler saying investors could soon be targeted by new loan to value lending rules.

The Loan to Value Ratio (LVR) is the amount of a loan compared with the value of a property. It is calculated by dividing the amount of the loan by the value of the property.

Last November the Reserve Bank tightened LVR rules to rein in Auckland investors, ensuring banks demand 30 per cent deposits for a mortgage secured against an investment property.

National residential property values rose 13.5 per cent and the national average value was now $590,909, today's QV figures show.

Auckland house values have shot up 4.7 per cent in the last three months and 16.1 per cent since last June, reaching a new average of $975,087.

James Wilson, homevalue registered valuer, said the city still had a listing shortage but well-presented properties were moving increasingly quickly, in some cases without even hitting the wider market.

"Investors appear to be heeding the recent warning by the Reserve Bank that further policy measures may be introduced later this year to curb investor activity in the housing market. This appears to have led to a surge in investor activity with many seeking to acquire as many properties as possible under the current rules before any further restrictions are introduced," Wilson said, citing West and South Auckland.

The surge would continue until any Reserve Bank changes, he said, warning apartment buyers to be careful.

"We strongly recommend completing adequate due diligence before signing a contract to purchase an apartment off the plans, not only into the value level of the property, but also into the background of the developer, paying particular attention to the quality of their past developments, financial stability and scale of the company."

The Queenstown Lakes District had the greatest quarterly increase, up 10.7 per cent, but 25 per cent year on year.

Hamilton values rose 29 per cent since last June and 6.9 per cent in the last three months to hit an average $492,403.

Tauranga values rose 23.6 per cent in the last year and 4.9 per cent in the last quarter, showing an average value of $599,915.

But Green Party co-leader James Shaw said people were having to live in cars and garages, or crowd whole families into a single room just to get by and many of these people have jobs.

"Workers should be able to afford their own homes. After eight years of National's tinkering, a first home is more unaffordable than ever.

"It's unreasonable for John Key to keep saying there is no housing crisis in Auckland when already-unaffordable houses still keep going up in price," Shaw said.

"It's increasingly clear that the only way to fix the Auckland housing crisis is to change the Government.

"The Green Party in government would seek to introduce a comprehensive capital gains tax (excluding the family home) and undertake a major state-sponsored house build," he said.

- NZ Herald

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