The Reserve Bank has released its data for October which shows investor lending hit $1.03 billion, slightly less than the $1.04 borrowed by investors in October 2017. The subdued investor numbers are in line with much of 2018, and rank against a high of $1.36 billion in March, and low of just $779 million in January.
Meanwhile, first home buyers borrowed $920 million, up from $722 million in October 2017. The figure is the second highest on record, based on RBNZ data going back to August 2014.
Overall lending shows a strong level of activity in the housing market. New Zealand home buyers borrowed a total of $5.5 billion, more than $900 million higher than the $4.6 billion borrowed in October last year.
CoreLogic's Kelvin Davidson said the figures underline a strong market: "Total flows were $920m higher than a year ago, driven by lending to owner-occupiers (and in turn, of that $920m rise, about $200m came from first home buyers, and of that $200m, $130m came from lending to FHBs at more than 80% LVR. So that’s all consistent with our own CoreLogic Buyer Classification figures, showing that FHBs are pretty active at present, right around the country, even Auckland."
The figures show banks are still treading cautiously around LVR restrictions, which could be relaxed by the Reserve Bank as soon as tomorrow. Interest-only lending represented less than 30% of the total, while high LVR lending to investors represented just 0.4% of total borrowing.
Davidson described the overall numbers as "reassuring" for the Reserve Bank. He predicts the central bank will loosen LVR restrictions tomorrow in the FSR.