Forced sales up in areas of the Bay

By Patrick O' Sullivan, Martin Johnston

Residential mortgagee sales are on the rise in central and southern Hawke's Bay, while in the rest of the region they are falling, according to figures released by Terralink.

The Hastings District recorded 10 mortgagee sales in the second quarter, falling to seven in the third quarter ending September. Napier fell from eight to seven.

Central Hawke's Bay recorded no residential mortgagee sales in the first quarter, one in the second quarter and six in the third.

The Tararua District recorded one sale in each of the first two quarters and five in the third.

Nationally, mortgagee sales from the July to September quarters fell by 15 per cent. In Hawke's Bay they fell 5 per cent.

Terralink said the reduction in mortgagee sales - forced sales by banks and other lenders - in the September quarter marked "a significant downward trend for the first time since the global financial crisis began in 2007".

"The number of mortgagee sales still remains stubbornly high in comparison with pre-recession figures," managing director Mike Donald said. "However, we are seeing an easing of volumes nationally with only a handful of regions experiencing significant increases in the third quarter of 2012."

The ANZ bank's chief economist, Cameron Bagrie, said exporting regions such as the Bay should ideally be leading economic data, not lagging.

"We need that because, in terms of our net external position, a lot of our current accounts are exceptionally high."

He said the national economy's existing mix of low interest rates and a high currency was driving "the complete opposite of what's ideal" and would not give sustained growth.

There was no one quick fix to the high New Zealand dollar, with Government intervention unlikely to work. Lowering interest rates had proven ineffective in Australia, he said.

He called for a strategic plan.

"At the moment we have a mismatch between the New Zealand dollar and where New Zealand's competitiveness is. There is basically a 10 per cent wedge."

The New Zealand dollar was not going to fall "in a hell of a hurry" and it was up to central government, local government and businesses working together to make up the 10 per cent gap in "productivity competitiveness".

"If we get it, then New Zealand is going to be okay. If we don't, then everyone is going to start to feel it because the critical variable - collateral damage - is in jobs.

"A rising unemployment rate does not bode well for a sustainable upturn in the property market."

Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg said there was a significant time lag to a mortgagee sale from when the home owner first got into financial difficulty. "So it is quite difficult to say that there is a trend there yet."

He said the unemployment rate remained a big worry and there was still weakness in the economic growth data.

The Terralink data showed the Auckland region had 137 mortgagee sales in the September quarter, down 14 per cent from 160 in the June quarter. Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Taranaki and Otago had reductions ranging from 25 to 55 per cent.

Manawatu and East Cape stand out as the regions with the largest increases in mortgagee sales when comparing third-quarter figures with the previous quarter.

Mortgagee sales in Manawatu rose by 28 per cent and the East Cape region jumped by 137 per cent.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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