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Mortgage Advice Blog

Get the latest news and tips about mortgage finance and the property market. Scott Miller, mortgage broker from Advanced Mortgage Solutions comments on housing and lending.

~December’s Newsletter

Published by Scott Miller on Thursday, December 10, 2009 in
Blog

Welcome to my festive season’s newsletter.

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Colin, I thought I would take this opportunity to recap on events that have taken place over the last year, if you are anything like me I just cannot work out how the year went by so quickly.

2009 - A random review
The big events of 2009 are usually well covered in the Christmas newspapers. I have picked a few which may not make the papers. 

  • The All Whites secured their place at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. Brilliant!
  • It turns out that most investors lost money without the help of financial advisers. 
  • The housing market held firm in the face of some dire predictions.
  • The Silver Ferns won the inaugural World Netball Series in Manchester, beating Jamaica in the final.
  • The Spring Boks took the Tri Nations but we held on to the Bledisloe Cup.
  • Michael Jackson passed away.
  • The associated persons ruling came into effect.
  • Dr Bollard held his nerve and the OCR remains at record low levels and, for the first time in many years, New Zealand has a normal interest rates yield curve. 
  • BNZ got rid of it’s mobile mortgage managers, encouraging its customers to return to its branches.
  • Water was found on the moon.
  • I became an uncle for the first time.

There is no doubt that 2009 was a hard year, and most of hardship was a result of the world’s financial meltdown. This placed huge pressure on employers, lenders, government, and the family unit. Although some pain remains, there are signs that the worst is behind us and nowhere can this be seen more graphically than in the housing market. In New Zealand purchasing houses remains the single biggest ticket item. On average most of us only do this 2-4 times in our lives.

Recently house prices have made a remarkable recovery in their value. The last peak in house prices was in November 2007 and has been used as the benchmark to measure house prices ever since. Part of the reason for these increases in house prices have of course been the low mortgage interest rates we have enjoyed in 2009. Although the longer term rates (3, 4, 5 year) have ballooned above their 10 year averages, short term rates remain low. Today’s announcement from Dr Bollard came as no surprise when he left the OCR unchanged.

Bank

Term

%

ANZ

6 Mths

5.99

ASB

6 Mths

6.00

BNZ

6 Mths

5.75

Kiwibank

6 Mths

5.75

National

6 Mths

5.70

Westpac

6 Mths

5.49

 What will 2010 bring?

  • · The OCR is expected to remain unchanged until the middle of 2010.
  • · House prices will continue to improve but perhaps at a slower rate.
  • · Interest rates will continue to increase.
  • · Mortgagee sales will remain at higher than normal levels.
  • · New Zealand’s economy will continue to recover.
  • · Worldwide economic improvement.

Tip of the Month

AMS is open over the festive season so please feel free to contact me over the break with any of your finance needs or questions.

Look out for my January newsletter as it will have a major announcement. AMS is going through a number of existing changes that I cannot wait to share with you.

~November’s Property Newsletter

Published by Scott Miller on Thursday, November 12, 2009 in
Blog

Welcome to November’s newsletter.

This month has seen it fair share of property related news.

  • · NZ’s Official Cash Rate remains unchanged
  • · Australia’s Official Cash Rate increases for the second time running
  • · Associated person’s ruling comes into effect
  • · Debate of capital gains tax continues
  • · House prices continue to improve
  • · Mortgage interest rates continue to increase

New Zealand Official Cash Rate (OCR) has remained unchanged for the 4th six week period in a row, and Dr Bollard has repeated his intentions of leaving it unchanged until late 2010. Some economists were predicting that New Zealand would follow Australia’s lead and increase the OCR to offset any inflationary pressures due to the improved outlook of New Zealand’s economy. The reality is that Australia came through the recession in much better shape than New Zealand and it will take some time for the improvements in our economy to show through in any real terms of growth.

This unchanged status in the OCR however has not stopped mortgage interest rates from increasing. One factor (and there are many) attributing to these interest rate increases is lenders in New Zealand have been under increased pressure from the Reserve Bank to limit the amount of offshore borrowing secured for mortgage purposes, and to increase their local deposit funds to cover any shortfalls. This has lead to lenders around New Zealand offering better rates on term deposits thus pushing up mortgage rates to cover costs of the accumulating interest on these term deposits.

In fact the 3, 4, and 5 year rates are now above their ten year averages, making these rates undesirable to fix in unless under particular circumstances. I.e. parking an estate or your property portfolio’s cashflow allows.

Please contact me here if you have a fixed term roll over coming up for renewal as it is very important to have the best interest rate structure in place bearing in mind how volatile interest rates are at the moment.

Associated Peron’s Ruling

The associated persons ruling came into effect on 6th October 2009. This will have far reaching repercussions for those people who have both buy and hold and trading portfolios. The ruling (in basic terms) states that if you are trading property, it is deemed that you are a ‘trader’ and that this is how you go about making a living. So even if your intention when purchasing a property is to buy and hold, if you sell this property within 10 years of purchasing it, the property is tainted under this new ruling and you will have to pay income tax on any profits.

More importantly though, because you are considered a trader you will have to have claimed GST after purchasing the property and as such will have to pay GST back to the IRD when selling the property. This is very important to remember as it will make a big difference in your calculations when purchasing a potential property.

The old structures of setting up a buy and hold company or trust for buy and holds, and a separate company or trust for trades will no longer protect you from becoming tainted.

There are however a couple of things to keep in mind.

1) The ruling only takes effect on property purchased at the time of acquisition. So all property purchased before the 6th October is not tainted by this ruling even if you sell the property before owning it for 10 years.

2) If you do not trade property or sell a property within ten years of purchasing it (after 6 Oct 2009) you will not be considered a trader and as such will remain untainted.

House Prices

House prices continue to rise across the nation. The strongest growth continues to be in the major city centres however this is filtering down to smaller areas of population. With fears that strong house prices will ultimately cause another recession down the line there has been a lot of talk of introducing a capital gains tax to dissuade people from investing in property.

You might think I am bias but I think this is very short sighted and the long term effects of such a tax has not been thought completely through. Property investment has always been a large part of New Zealand’s economic landscape and to attribute the cause of the recent recession solely on property is ridiculous. To introduce a capital gains tax in order to reduce the pace of increasing house prices and making it more affordable for the average consumer makes little sense to me.

If the government increases the tax payable on petrol or cigarettes (or any other items) then it’s not the shop owner that bears the brunt of this increase in total cost of purchasing this item to sell. The extra expense incurred by increasing the tax levy is pasted onto the consumer, therefore allowing the shop owner to retain his margin. This type of on-flow effect will also take place if a capital gains tax is introduced on property. The net result in my opinion will be higher property prices (hindering the average first time buyer), resulting in less people owning their own home and more people settling for the rental option. Which in turn fuels the price of houses and further tilts the balance of home ownership in favour of the property investor, which I believe to be the exact opposite of what the intentions of bringing in a capital gains tax is suppose to achieve. Watch this space!

Summary

Gareth, a lot has happened in property over the last month. I have summaries the most important factors that may affect you. I do however strongly urge you to contact me directly if you are thinking about completeing any property transactions. My services and advice are largely free and I would hate to see any part of your property portfolio compromised.

~October’s property newsletter

Published by Scott Miller on Friday, October 23, 2009 in
Blog

Interest rates

The Reserve Bank cash rate has remained at 2.5% for some time now. The next OCR announcement is set for 29th October 2009 and the expectation from the mainstream bank’s chief economist is there will be no change. However there is underlying pressures for the OCR to go up, and it is widely picked that the original comments from Dr Bollard that the OCR will remain unchanged until late 2010 is being overly optimistic. Just last week Nick Tuffley from ASB predicted that we will see a .5% increase in the OCR in March next year.

What would I do if I was looking to fix a loan?

I still believe there is merit in leaving your loan on the floating rate as we are some way off seeing the OCR rise. I also believe that long term interest rates (3 – 5 years) are no longer attractive as they are now higher than their 10 year averages. If you did want to fix your home loan I would suggest a maximum of 2 years and would consider the option of splitting your loan to reduce your exposure at the end of your next refix period. I offer free advice on fixing home loans and are happy to help you with your decision making. Please contact me here if you would like me to access your options.

Housing Market update

House prices continue to improve with September being the fourth straight month of property price increases. It is believed this is largely due to there being a high demand for property coupled with reasonable low levels of supply. A unseasonably warm end to winter also saw long periods of warm weather enhancing the warm fuzzy feeling around property procurement. This however has been tempered slightly by less than average weather for spring.

As is typical with property lead recoveries it is the major metropolitan centres that are experiencing the best capital growth.

This was evident in the resent QV report out on October 10th.

Lastly I would like to comment on population growth within New Zealand.

Population fluctuations are a well known contributor to the direction of house prices. We have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of New Zealander’s returning to our shores and it will slowly filter through to the numbers of people either looking to rent or purchase a house. To give you an idea of immigration numbers 17,043 people have registered as permanent or long term returners to New Zealander to September 2009. This is a huge number and there is no sign of it slowing down.

Tip of the month

Be sure of the consequences of your decisions before re-fixing your home loan as it will play a large part in how things will unfold at your next loan roll over. Try and avoid getting advice from someone that works at the bank. Generally these people hold multi-roles that demand they do more than one job and are not specialists in mortgage lending.

As always please feel free to contact me for free independent advice on all things property.

~Property comments from the BNZ

Published by Scott Miller on Thursday, August 20, 2009 in
Blog

I am pleased to report that the housing market continues to improve. Not only are the traditional well informed property investors in the market but the long awaited return of first home buyers is making a real difference to the numbers of properties being purchased, if anything the problem facing the market at the moment is not having enough stock to go around. This in turn is one of the reasons why we are seeing house prices increase.

 The mainstream banks are slowly beginning to relax their lending policies, and although these policies are not reaching the relaxed levels we witnessed in 2007, they are certainly better an 6 months ago.

 A number of mainstream lenders will now consider lending above 80% LVR for the right kind of property and applicant. This however is still bettered by the 95% LVR products that is available to Advanced Mortgage Solutions clients that fit criteria.

 As always if you would like to know more please click here to enquire further.

 TIP OF THE MONTH:

 This month’s tips come courtesy of recent comment released by Tony Alexander from BNZ. Please read on to hear his thoughts on interest rates and where he sees the housing market going.

INTEREST RATES

Given the way the data have fallen over the past week it remains reasonable to continue to expect
wholesale interest rates to slowly drift higher in coming months.

 Early this week we learnt two important things. First, as discussed in depth in our Housing section, house prices are now officially rising again in New Zealand. They gained 1% in July and 2.2% in the three months to July. The time taken to sell a dwelling is now the best compared with average since late-2007, and anecdotes continue to bespeak of listings shortages. This means prices are likely to continue to creep up.

This development is important because we Kiwis pay close attention to house price movements and the gains in prices fairly much wipe out concerns some will have been having about rising unemployment being the key determinant of house price changes and everything else in the economy. As we have pointed out, the labour market lags the economy, it does not lead it. That means if you forecast the economy on the basis of what the labour market is doing you are actually looking backward rather than forward.

The other large piece of news was retail spending growing in seasonally adjusted volume terms by 0.4% during the June quarter This is still a weak result by historical standards but better than the 0.2% decline expected in the markets and the strongest result since the March quarter of 2007 (when sales ballistically soared 3.7%!).

 The data come in a week when we have also learnt that the EU economy shrank only 0.1% during the June quarter with France and Germany each growing by 0.3%. Japan also grew 0.9% during the June quarter. The results add up to further support for the global recovery story therefore further upward pressure on share prices, growth and risky currencies like the NZD and AUD, and of course interest rates. But rate rises will not be linear. There will be substantial reversals at times as doubts occasionally appear about the strength of the economic recovery. In particular one must be wary of the impact which the unwinding of unsustainably stimulatory fiscal and monetary policies will have next year and through 2011. In fact those concerns have dominated this week with the result that after initially jumping skyward wholesale interest rates have finished today down very slightly from where they were a week ago.

 Key Forecasts

• No more monetary policy easing this cycle.

 • Medium to long term housing rates have seen their multi-year lows – stop-start rises now lie ahead. Speed unclear.

If I Were a Borrower What Would I Do?

First one needs to recognise that in these still very uncertain times one cannot take a reasonable stab at where fixed rates will be in one, two, and three years time. That means it would be risky to base one’s decision upon what to do at the moment on someone’s forecast of where things will go in the future. Just because we called it right with regard to catching the low-point for fixed rates in March does not mean we can reasonably say where those rates will be while the global crisis continues to unfold.

 The upshot of recognising such uncertainty is that one should be prepared to pay a premium for certainty in the form of a higher rate for fixing long term than short term. The question is however whether the current premium for fixing three years and beyond, when mixed with an assumption of higher rates in the future, justifies fixing medium to long term.

 First, would I take the five year fixed housing rate at 8.3%? No I would not. It is 0.2% above the average for that rate over the past five years and although we think fixed rates will average higher over the next five years than the past five, the rate looks expensive.

 Would I fix three years at 7.45%? Three weeks ago when this rate was 6.99% my answer was yes I would. But at 7.45% one is paying quite a premium above floating at 5.89% under the Total Money package, fixing 18 months at 6.09%, or fixing one year at 5.99%. For an above average risk averse person fixing at 7.45% for three years looks good in the current environment. But I would not.

95% product available

Published by Scott Miller on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 in
Blog

I am happy to announce that Advanced Mortgage Solutions has secured a new funding line that allows clients to refinance at 95%.

 This product allows you to refinance existing lending on owner occupied or rental properties. Like other recently released 95% products there are some guidelines. These include having a property portfolio with less than 5 properties, having a clean credit history, low consumer debt, and good account conduct. If you think this is you and you would like to know more please feel free to contact me.

 Further to comments I made last month I believe best time to buy property is now! This does not mean that you have to break your neck to purchase one this week, instead I believe prices will remain low over the winter period and leading up to Christmas. I would suggest that house prices will make a recovery in early 2010 and continue to increase throughout the year. This is important as rental yields generally do not make us rich, it’s capital gain that drives property portfolio’s.

 To return to AMS’s home page click here

~Property news for July

Published by Scott Miller on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 in
Blog

Welcome to my newsletter for July 2009.

Internationally:

 There has been a lot of positive news out in the market at the moment. World stock exchanges have had 10%+ rallies over the last two weeks, noticeably the Dow Jones sneaking past the imaginary 9000 point barrier and the NZX 50 passing the 3000 point mark. This is good news and long may it continue. I suggested in my May commentary that if the northern hemisphere had a good long summer with positive financial news that it would filter down to the New Zealand economy, and it certainly has been positive so far.

Locally:

 The OCR announcement this Thursday is expected to bring up no surprises with most economist’s predicting a hold on the cash rate at 2.5%. What does this mean? Well for the short term rates (6 months and 1 year), I expect there will be very little change if the rates stay the same. If rates do fall I would imagine only a small flow-on from the lenders would take place. The promised bank war on rates has not eventuated, although don’t count this out from happening in the near future as competition for customer retention is heating up. There is continued pressure for longer term rates (18 months, 2, 3, 4, and 5 year rates) to increase, albeit slowly. If your home loan(s) is coming up for renewal within the next 60 days please contact me here and I will approach your lender to ascertain any potential discounts available for you.

 On another local matter there is good news for first home buyers with little or no deposit.

 The following is an update on the current Welcome Home Loan product.

“Welcome Home” loan lending limits look set to increase

Lending limits for “Welcome Home” loans for first home buyers look set to increase next month, opening the scheme up to low-income home-buyers in parts of New Zealand for the first time in several years. Housing Minister Phil Heatley has told Parliament’s social services select committee that the current $280,000 loan limit for the scheme could be raised by the Cabinet on August 3 to between $320,000 and $350,000.A spokesman for Housing Minister Phil Heatley has said there were no plans to change the income limit of $85,000 for a household of one or two people, but it was clear that the loan limit had fallen behind property values, especially in Auckland.

NZ Housing Foundation director Brian Donnelly said the new loan limit could make the scheme useful in Auckland if it was extended to cover shared equity arrangements where first home buyers buy only 75 or 80 per cent of the value of a home, with the rest owned by a joint owner such as the Housing Foundation.

Welcome Home loans:

 Loans up to $280,000 for first home buyers.

  • Household income must be under $85,000 for one or two borrowers, or $120,000 for three or more borrowers.
  • 15 per cent deposit required for loans above $200,000.
  • Proposed loan limit increase to $320,000 or $350,000 would finance homes worth up to $376,470 or $411,765 if borrowers can find the required deposits.

This product is available through Advanced Mortgage Solutions and if you would like more information please click Here.

Tip of the month:

House prices seem to have found their low point.

If you are in a position to hold onto your current property portfolio without it causing an undue financial strain then do so. Don’t misunderstand me; if you have a particular property that is not behaving itself by all means sell it. However with net migration breaking all sorts of records, the economy being as bad as it has for so long, and continued historically low interest rates house prices are going to make a comeback. The time where capital growth was the reason for owning property although still a while off, is returning, and from the bottom it can only go up.

Please click here to return to AMS’s home page

~Interest rates

Published by Scott Miller on Monday, July 06, 2009 in
Blog

Interest Rate Outlook

Current Interest Rates
Rates offered are the best of standard, carded interest rates available and do not reflect any discounts your Advisor may be able to obtain for your client. Rates correct as at 03/07/09.
Variable 6.30%
6 Month Fixed 5.39%
1 Year Fixed 5.49%
2 Year Fixed 6.20%
3 Year Fixed 6.89%
5 Year Fixed 7.90%

The economy is stabilising, and this should see an end to the easing of interest rates much further, provided we do not see any more turmoil in overseas markets.

We are seeing a continuing strengthening of net migration into NZ with another month of in excess of 2,000 more people into our beautiful country, on an annual basis our population has increased by more than 9,000 which is more than double a year ago, this is predominantly being driven by a sharp decline in the number of Kiwi’s jumping the ‘ditch’ which is now down to record lows not seen since 2006. The strong net migration together with strong housing data supports the theory that the easing of interest rates has almost finished.

Much improved household affordability is being driven by the lower interest rates we now enjoy and the average number of days to sell a house is now down to 41 which is just a touch over the historical average of 39 days and seasonally adjusted sales last month were over 5,700 more than 50% above the trough in November 2008. There is clearly a stock shortage in Real Estate with a lot of people preferring to sit tight in the current climate due to concerns around employment prospects and the continuing conservative approach to lending from banks who all have liquidity concerns and are in a massive arm wrestle for term deposits.

The Reserve Bank has reiterated that it expects to keep the Official Cash Rate low right through to late 2010 and while business confidence has been restored the economy is still hampered by the strengthening of the kiwi dollar due to a continuing depressed global environment, which is undermining the rural and export sectors.

Mortgage rates continue to be influenced by contrasting forces, at one end of the scale you have continued upward pressure on long term rates (3-5 year) due to upward pressure on term deposit rates as banks scramble for term deposits. At the other end of the scale we see the message being reinforced that short term rates will be held low for at least the next 18 months. These forces are seeing a lot of tension in the mortgage market with consumers confused or contrasting in their opinions. Our current strategy still remains unchanged though, be patient and take advantage of the low 6 month or 1 year fixed rates with over 2% difference to 5 year rates, the other option is to consider a hybrid of the two.

What’s Hot
We have been able to extend our very popular 95% LVR product out to refinance clients now. Previously restricted solely for purchasers, we can report many happy clients last month were able to consolidate their debts into one loan, saving them thousands of dollars in interest and reducing their monthly commitments-Help your clients, refer them to us!

My property commentary

Published by Scott Miller on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 in

Well summer has definitely gone and winter has arrived, but despite the weathers best efforts there is plenty happening in the property market.

First I would like to go over some of the thought I have on where the property market is going.

I believe that the seasonal changes we are experiencing could not have come at a better time. In the last three months of summer we saw a rebound in the property market. Sales numbers were up, days taken to sell were down, and in April we even saw a small increase in the median houses price throughout New Zealand.

Traditionally winter always brings a lull to the market. Daylight viewing hours are less, the cold inhospitable weather lessens people enthusiasm for house hunting, and properties don’t look so good with leafless tress and muddy grounds.

BUT THAT’S IN NEW ZEALAND!

It pays to remember that in the big scheme of things New Zealand really is only a cork floating on the sea of international change, and we as a country don’t have that much financial clout. As New Zealand moves deeper into winter the northern hemisphere arrives into their summer and all the nice things about life returns to those who live north of the equator. As far as the weather is concerned the good times are back. (I was speaking with a client in London yesterday and it was 25 degrees, his kids were outside playing in the garden, happy days)

So the good feelings are back - but what about the global recession, how’s that coming along?

Well financially, stock and monetary markets have been making a slow but steady recovery, making up some of the lost ground they have experienced over the last year or so. Wall Street has seen a 19% increase in its markets since its lows in Dec/Jan, as have many of the European stock and monetary exchanges.

The implementation of recession busting government policies is also starting to have effect. TARP and similar schemes have gone a long way to oiling the wheels of finance, allowing companies, and individuals to lend money again. This combined with a reduction in interest rates for almost all countries has made accessible fund more affordable.

Now I am not saying that the world (or New Zealand) is out of the woods yet, but what I am leading to is that given the direction the markets and monetary policy is heading, we should be well placed to see some real change as we come into our spring. The feel good factor in the northern hemisphere coupled with rejuvenated business confidence will surely flow and bob the cork that is New Zealand. Expect to see unemployment reduce, net migration continue to increase, and house prices slowly rise as our summer takes hold.

As I mentioned at the start, personally the timing of the seasons

could not be better.

Tip of the Month:

Please be aware the new 95% product is going well with over 2/3being approved. If you find yourself looking to make that next purchase or simply want to know how you are placed to move forward please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Below I have added the latest commentary from the NBNZ.

Please read on as it makes great reading.

The month in review

Lower mortgage rates have given the property market a shot in the arm, although it has the feel of a statistical rebound from very low levels. The number of new homes being built remains weak. The Reserve Bank has committed to keeping rates low until the latter part of 2010, which will provide borrowers with a greater degree of certainty.

» Building Consents – March. Residential building consents remain very weak. Following an 11.7 percent increase in February, consent issuance fell 4.6 percent in March (-30 percent annually). Stripping out volatile apartment issuance, consents fell 1.3 percent following a 0.2 percent increase last month. The level remains near historical lows.

» Net Migration – March. NZ gained a net 1,720 people in the month of March, taking the annual gain to 7,482 (compared to 4,678 a year ago). In the March quarter, net migration was running at an annualised rate of 16,520 people, equivalent to 0.4 percent of the population.

» Mortgage Lending – March. Household credit growth rose by only 0.1  percent - despite all that frenzied mortgage fixing and increased housing market activity.

» REINZ housing data – April. Nationwide house sales recorded an impressive 19.6 percent seasonally adjusted increase in April, and are now up 39 percent on a year ago. The median length of time to sell a house improved to 44 days in seasonally adjusted terms in the month. This is down from 48 days in March and a peak of 57 days in July last year, although it remains slightly above the historical average of 39 days. House prices also continue to surprise, although composition issues with the REINZ data means that some caution should be taken. Nevertheless, the median house price rose $5000 in the month to $340,000 and is only down 1.4 percent on a year ago.

» RBNZ April OCR Review. The RBNZ delivered a clear message in its latest assessment of the economic situation by cutting the Official Cash rate (OCR) by 50 basis points and committing to keeping rates low until late 2010. In so far as central bank communication is concerned, the message was clear cut: if you are a borrower, don’t panic and rush to fix

for a long-term.

» Household Labour Force – March. In seasonally adjusted terms, employment fell by 1.1 percent in the March quarter – the biggest quarterly contraction since the March 1989 quarter. However, volatility in the employment growth measure of late almost makes the quarter-on-quarter movements redundant. We instead prefer to focus on the more stable unemployment rate, and while it rose 0.3 percentage points to 5.0 percent, judging by leading indicators it is set to rise further.

Assessment

The month saw further signs of encouragement in so far as housing related indicators are concerned. However, the level of activity still remains well down on the peak. Recovering house sales look to be leading the way and should start to flow into building consent figures in H2 2009 (which having hit 1960’s lows is simply unsustainable relative to natural population and

migration growth). But going forward we need to differentiate between the change and the base. The change is welcome but recovery means climbing out of a very deep hole. The big uncertainties are impetus from migration versus fewer jobs.


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