Mortgagee sales have fallen to their lowest levels in more than a decade, thanks to low interest rates and a healthy job market.

Mortgagee sales remained low at 249 for the year through to September, according to new data from analysts CoreLogic.

This was 55 fewer than the same period last year and 2367 fewer than in 2009 when the Global Financial Crisis sent a crash through New Zealand's housing market.

Auckland figures mirrored this trend with 43 mortgagee sales in the year so far, compared to 48 for the entire 2017 year and 1183 in 2009.

Advertisement

It comes despite Auckland being regarded as one of the world's most unaffordable housing markets, with homes costing a median price of $850,000 in September - or more than 15 times the annual salary of a typical worker.

But economists warned interest rates could still be driven up by an unexpected global shock, such as a US-triggered trade war or credit crunch in China.

Mortgagee sales take place when a bank or lender sells the house of a person who was unable to meet the cost of paying their home loan.

Home owners were most at risk of this when high interest rates forced them to pay more money to the bank or when they lost their jobs or didn't earn enough, CoreLogic head of research Nick Goodall said.


one roof

Find your dream home at oneroof.co.nz

But this was in contrast with New Zealand's current near-record low interest rates, low unemployment and strong "jobs growth".

"So we would need some sort of direct shock to see a rise in interest rates and increase in job losses ... to see a lift in the number of mortgagee sales," he said.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley backed this, saying if we were to look "for anything to upset the apple cart", it would likely be a shock from overseas.

Advertisement

"Most of the major recessions we've looked at have had a component where something nasty has happened overseas that has sometimes coincided with something locally, like a drought," he said.

"And two or three separate events can at times slow the economy down markedly."

He said that - ahead of the 2008 financial crisis - Kiwi home owners were already battling fixed interest rates as high as 10 per cent, before unemployment essentially doubled during the turmoil that followed.

By contrast, New Zealand was in better shape now.

"Where we are standing is still extraordinarily low interest rates, while debt servicing as a share of New Zealanders' income is way down from the peak that we got to in the period leading up to the financial crisis," he said.

"So there seems to be quite a bit of a buffer there."

Most Kiwi banks also held low ratios of home loans at risk of default, according to the Reserve Bank.

ANZ bank had the highest ratio of the major banks with 0.3 per cent of its $74 billion worth of home loans being impaired or at least 90 days overdue.

Elsewhere, across New Zealand, there have been 27 mortgagee sales in the Canterbury region so far this year compared to 259 at the height of the financial crisis in 2009.

Fourteen home owners have also lost their homes to mortgagee sales in the Waikato this year compared to 268 in 2009.

The West Coast region was the only area in the country where there has been more mortgagee sales so far this year, at 29, than there was in 2009 when just nine occurred.

West Coast Regional Council chairman Andrew Robb said the Buller District, in particular, had been hit hard recently with close to 1800 jobs being lost in the town of Westport due to cutbacks at coal miners Solid Energy and cement works Wholesome.