Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Why forced home sales are falling

Interest rates could fall further as economists predict another cut in the official cash rate when Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler makes his announcement on Thursday. Photo / NZPA
Interest rates could fall further as economists predict another cut in the official cash rate when Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler makes his announcement on Thursday. Photo / NZPA

The number of homeowners forced to sell because of debt has dropped 30 per cent in the past financial year - which property experts say is a sign of a more buoyant economy.

Figures released by data analysis company CoreLogic showed that in the year to June the number of mortgagee sales nationwide was 483, down 203, or 30 per cent, from 686 sold in the same period ending June 30, 2015.

Harcourts Grenadier City manager Cedric King said the overall decline in owners being forced to sell was reflective of a stronger economy.

"With the low interest rates, people aren't getting into the financial bind they perhaps once did," he said.

"In a buoyant economy, with a robust real estate market, people can get out of an issue. If they have one, they can easily sell."

King said the mortgagee sales that did go ahead were likely due to other issues, such as marital or family problems, rather than financial.

He expected the trend in lower interest rates and mortgagee sales to continue to dip for the next few years.

"Most mortgagees don't get into that position because they intended to. It's generally what surrounds them and the conditions that places them in a difficult position," King said.

Interest rates could fall further as economists predict another cut in the official cash rate when Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler makes his announcement on Thursday.

Infometrics chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan said this could be followed by yet another cut in six months.

This made it easier for people to service a mortgage and keep up with payments, particularly in an economy where the job market was stable and unemployment was relatively low, he said.

However, Kiernan said those on lower incomes needed to ensure they were well-prepared to cope with any potential rise in interest rates.

"If you are having to stretch yourself quite far now and not expecting a change in income then yes, you would want to factor in a potential rise," he advised.

Most regions reflected a fall in the number of distressed sales. However, Taranaki had 20 sales in the year to June, compared with 18 in the same period last year. West Coast was up one sale this year to 24, and Canterbury jumped up by eight sales to 35. Waikato had the largest drop in mortgagee sales, down 69, or 57 per cent, in the year to June, compared with the previous year.

Barfoot and Thomson director Kiri Barfoot said the lower mortgagee figures were reflective of market confidence.

"People's ability to refinance is a lot stronger than it was," she said. "There is more equity, there are more secure jobs, or perhaps people have got a pay rise."

- NZ Herald

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