The CoreLogic ‘NZ Property Market Podcast’ has been running weekly since February, covering all of the relevant economic and property market facts and figures in a complementary format to our regular written publications. Some of the episodes have also featured high-profile guests, but of course those who haven’t subscribed to the podcast yet are missing out on the fascinating insights that our guests have provided, including former BNZ Chief Economist (now independent speaker and commentator) Tony Alexander last week. So this article sets out some of these insights, in chronological order of when the guest appeared on the podcast. CoreLogic’s reach across the whole property ‘ecosystem’ allows us to tap into a wide range of views and, on the whole, there’s cautious optimism about the market in the next few months post-lockdown, and there’s clear belief that greater use of technology will be a lasting feature in real estate.
Sam McIntyre, Owner of Tall Poppy Real Estate (6th April):
- Real estate agents just needed to do whatever they could to survive lockdown, because there’d be many opportunities when the market started again (as it has done now).
- Technology has become an even more important part of an estate agent’s toolkit since the start of lockdown, but there’s also still huge value in face to face contact and doing deals in person.
- The first few months after lockdown may not necessarily be a ‘buyer’s market’, given tight supply of listings.
Nigel Jeffries, Head of Property at Trademe (10th April):
- Lockdown was clearly a quiet period for new listings activity, but there was still plenty of website traffic and properties with a video attached to the listing tended to attract more hits – expected to remain a feature after lockdown too.
- To survive and thrive in the recession, businesses need to focus relentlessly on costs, because a dollar saved in costs is the same for profit as a dollar earned in revenue.
- Relatively optimistic that the property market would emerge solidly after lockdown, but sales volumes would nevertheless be lower than last year and values for some types of property (e.g. baches) would suffer more than others.
Lloyd Budd, Director of Auckland Commercial & Industrial at Bayleys (16th April):
- Emphasised the growing importance of technology in real estate, with video footage now seen as key part of listings (especially for overseas buyers of commercial property).
- Commercial property plays a key supporting role for the economy and the office isn’t ‘dead’ – clients continuing to make enquiries about floorspace, as social and face to face contact still vital.
- Potentially a two-tier market for commercial property post-lockdown, with the best locations, longest leases, strongest tenant being key factors behind outperformance.
Glenn Stevenson, Head of Mortgages at ANZ (24th April):
- Communication is key – it helps both the bank and borrower to chat early if any problems are looming, and prudent decisions prior to a loan actually being approved in the first place are also beneficial to all concerned.
- After about four weeks of lockdown, less than 1% of ANZ mortgage borrowers had requested an extension to the term of their loan, about 3% had switched to interest-only, and 3-4% had a payment deferral in place.
- Loan to value ratio speed limits have worked well, but removal for at least the next 12 months also a good decision – however, not expected to open the lending flood gates, because income/expense testing still stringent.
Peter Newbold, General Manager of Real Estate at PGG Wrightson (30th April):
- Alert level four had seen minimal real estate activity for provincial residential, lifestyle, and farms – but signs were improving in level three, and more pick-up was looking likely in level two.
- Banking sector starting to look more favourably at farming and rural property, with this part of the economy anticipated to fare relatively well in the coming months.
- Real estate industry had rapidly adopted technology during lockdown, and this was likely to be a lasting feature.
Tony Alexander, Independent Economist (13th May):
- The physical supply/demand balance for housing matters less in driving sales volumes and prices than factors such as confidence, expectations and the availability of credit.
- Bank funding is not a meaningful barrier to mortgage lending in the coming months; the bigger issue is the uncertainty around a borrower’s employment situation and how to ‘price that risk’ in terms of mortgage rates.
- There’s pent-up demand for property and, given still-tight listings, forecasts of 15-20% falls in house prices look too bleak – especially when you also consider the significant scope for expat kiwis to return home and keep net migration solid.