The latest buyer classification data shows that multiple property owners remain a firm presence in the market; with this category securing 38 per cent of sales nationwide in April.
On the face of it, this is only slightly down on a peak of 40 per cent in Q3 2014, but the makeup of these multiple property owners has changed, not to mention the number of sales reducing significantly — from more than 15,000 sales in Q2 2016 to under 10,000 in Q1 2018.
To deliver a feel for sentiment between what is credit related, due loan-to-value ratio restrictions (LVR) and stricter debt serviceability tests, or market related, we split these multiple property owners by whether they registered a mortgage with their new purchase.
Those not requiring a mortgage are affected mainly by factors such as the market outlook, rental yield and availability of properties. Their activity has dropped by 10 per cent (4000 sales in Q1 2016 to 3600 in Q1 2018) in two years, but that's not as significant as the drop in mortgaged multiple property owners, whose activity is down more than 30 per cent (9100 sales in Q1 2016 to 6200 in Q1 2018).
The next question shifts to what types of investors are still willing and able to secure funding for their continued activity, and are we seeing mum and dad investor-types impacted or are more experienced investors with significant portfolios taking a backwards step in the market?
The last few years have witnessed the increasing prevalence of investors diversifying their portfolio across a new area. This was epitomised by Auckland investors buying 'down the road' in Hamilton and coincided with the LVR restrictions being tighter in Auckland than the rest of the country. Since the limits were re-nationalised (October 2016) this behaviour has reduced, in Hamilton and elsewhere.
For other investor types who have remained relatively narrow in their geographic coverage of investments, the clearest long-term trend is the change in activity of those investors with two properties.
This group makes up 29 per cent of all multiple property owner sales (the most of any group), consistent with the last two years, but a drop on the 33 per cent we had seen in 2012. This dropping trend in multiple property owner share is evident, but to a lesser degree with investors holding between three and five properties.
Making up for this drop in share are the big-time multiple property owners who are still a smaller part of the market, but have increased from 10 per cent in 2012 to 13 per cent in 2018 (and 14 per cent in 2017). It's likely these investors have more equity built up and can more easily access a 35 per cent (previously 40 per cent) deposit to extend their portfolio.
Ultimately though, those investors who are in it for the long term and can afford to buy where high quality tenants are resident, are continuing to do so.