Tough times reverberate through mortgage industry

Home buyers and the mortgage advisers who serve them will be nervously watching the renewed slew of worrying economic data.

In one forecast, the latest Westpac McDermott-Miller survey found consumer confidence among New Zealand households is at a low level last seen during the 2008/09 Global Financial Crisis.   

It says households’ finances are being squeezed due to higher interest rates and big increases in the cost of living.  

Yet the Westpac economist Satish Rancchod is warning of still more pain to come, with inflation set to persist and two more big rises in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) expected from the Reserve Bank before the end of the year.

Rnacchod says this is already weighing on people’s appetites for spending, which shifts the burden one step along to often small businesses. 

In addition to these woes, the NZ dollar slipped on Tuesday to just above the $US0.56 mark, raising the prospect of price rises for imports paid for in American dollars.

Into this mix, economic growth is slipping globally, and while New Zealand escaped a recession with modest growth in the June quarter, downward pressure on that growth is expected to continue. 

So how is this affecting the mortgage advice industry?

According to Bruce Patten of Loan Market, sales volumes of properties are down, though that is being offset a bit by mortgage advisers getting a larger share of the home loans market compared with walks-ins to the branch of a bank.

But there are still worries.

“Like anything, it is a cost of living issue and inflation is a big problem, and there is not much we can do about that, "he said.

“The key thing we are seeing is that where businesses have been around for a time, they are still active and busy.   But the new-to-industry advisers are the ones who will be struggling at the moment because they don’t have that data base of clientele.

“So every deal they write is a new deal and they are really having to hunt for their work.”

And there was another problem, he said, on the commercial side.

“It is the same for investors, prices (of properties) are still high, and interest rates are higher, so yields are not as good, so you don’t get as many investors in the market.

“So there is a whole range of things going on.”

There might be some signs of relief, but they are limited.   Supply chains for vital products are becoming slightly less gummed up, which could ease inflationary pressure from that direction. 

In addition, the Reserve Bank governor suggested in a speech to trade unionists that some of the heavy lifting - though certainly not all - had already been done in the fight against inflation.

And high prices are boosting earnings in parts of the rural sector.

Most Read

Get TMM delivered to your inbox each week

Sign Up