What’s Wrong With Auckland Council’s Analysis of Supply and Demand in Our Market

Auckland Council have analysed the supply and demand drivers at play in our market. They believe we have a shortfall of 15,000 dwellings now (I suspect this is at least 5,000 light but lets run with this analysis), and the other key assumptions are population change and that 80% of building consents issued are used for housing and rental stock (as opposed to bachs and other secondary housing, and consents which are not built).

Auckland Council’s Cumulative Housing Shortfall Table

Housing Shortfall graph 2014 - 2028 Auckland Council

So this analysis peaks in 2018 at 24,467 dwelling, and falls back with population reducing (not sure why they modelled this) to an estimated 11,533 dwelling shortfall by 2028.

My Criticisms of this Model

This is an economic model, so as usual it will not be perfect. It is a good guess, not a great guess. We start with 15,000 dwellings as the shortfall in 2014, which I consider to be light. I believe from talking to real estate company directors, owners, and leading agents in their sub-regions of Auckland, that the shortfall is under-recorded. We have far more buyers than sellers, over-crowding is becoming more prevalent.

I suspect the aggregation and globalisation factors will drive Auckland to have population growth averaging at least 30,000 per year over the next 25 years, so the demand side will be greater than Statistics NZ’s median projections.

The difficulties in obtaining resource consents, with NIMBYs being pandered to by overly conservative Council planning staff in certain areas, have not been fully thought through either. The Unitary Plan will help this – by how much who knows.

No thought given to modelling property cycles

My biggest criticism on the supply side is that little thought given to the fact that the property market is cyclical. After this current boom phase of the property cycle ends (which Auckland Council join Fletcher Building in believing it is going to be in 2018), there will as surely as night follows day be another downturn phase of the property cycle, before a recovery, then another boom and so forth. In downturns building consent volumes have always crashed – why will it be different this time. Are banks going to lend more easily when a property market is gripped with fear? Are Auckland Council going to abolish both their unpopular Watercare Infrastructure Growth Charge and slash Development Contributions? I would put as much chance as the USA have of winning the Rugby World Cup later this year.

Census under-reporting in Auckland

This will probably be brushed under the carpet, but I suspect Auckland will have a slightly higher incidence of under-reporting than other parts of NZ. Aucklanders tend to move around more than other parts of NZ and have the most internal and external (overseas) migration, meaning that there is not a habit of filling in a census form. They are not enjoyable and if you are not being nagged, as you cannot be easily tacked down, then you can see why people don’t do this. At a banking function last night there were five bankers admitting that they and their families didn’t complete the last Census. These aren’t as well followed up and are under-recorded in Auckland with people moving around, using work addresses/parents addresses/old addresses to make things harder so the less sophisticated Census collectors. One issue here is how to record how many (tens of) thousands of Aucklanders didn’t fill out their census forms? That is a hard statistic to record.

Interest Rates at 31 July 2015

Lender Floating 1 year 2 years 3 years 4 years 5 years
ANZ 6.24% 4.89% 4.99% 5.59% 5.75% 5.79%
ASB 6.50% 4.69% 4.89% 4.99% 5.55% 5.65%
BNZ 6.24% 5.19% 4.69% 5.25% 5.65% 5.75%
HSBC 6.60% 4.49% 4.49% 4.49% 5.29% 5.29%
Kiwibank 6.15% 5.09% 4.99% 5.39% 5.75% 5.60%
Westpac 6.15% 5.39% 4.69% 5.59% 5.75% 5.79%
Average 6.31% 4.96% 4.79% 5.22% 5.62% 5.65%
Swap Rates ^ 3.00% 2.89% 2.89% 2.96% 3.05% 3.17%
Interest Margin 3.31% 2.07% 1.90% 2.26% 2.57% 2.48%

^ the Official Cash Rate (OCR) has been used for the floating rate, and then the interest/swap rates have been taken as at 12 noon today.


We have added HSBC to this table and shown the HSBC Premier’s rates.  They are the clear market leaders on carded price. For every bank listed above that has a special or multiple products, then I show the lowest rate for that time period.

Sydney Median House Prices pass A$1 million

If you think Auckland’s house prices are high, have a thought for our neighbour’s just 2,150 km or two hours in time behind us. Australia’s largest city Sydney has a median house price of A$1,000,616. This represents an equivalent median house price of NZ$1,108,000.

The low interest rates have helped – they are lower than ours. In addition Sydney has very strong internal and external migration.

Here’s a heat map from Core Logic of where the Sydney median house prices are by suburb:

Sydney Suburb House Price Map May 2015

Floating rates to drop below 5% by early 2016?

What interesting times we live in. We have Chinese foreign buyers accused of destroying the Auckland housing market, Greece defaulting on its debt obligations and being kept in the Eurozone for now after accepting crippling austerity packages, the Chinese stock market tanking and needing Government intervention to protect against a firesale, and now the Global Dairy Auctions have tanked and NZ dairy farmer’s will have their incomes further reduced.

OCR to be cut heavily over the coming months

This is likely to mean the Official Cash Rate will drop further than expected. There was little reason to raise it to 3.50% other than Mr Wheeler thinking inflation might rise. He was wrong. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand have been in breach of the policy targets agreements for many years now as we are meant to have CPI inflation running between 1 – 3%. We are still below 1% at a scarcely material 0.4%.

After the Global Milk Powder Auctions here is what happened on the interest rate swap market today:

Swap rates slide 16.7.15


Where to from here?

We will we almost certainly see the OCR cut on Thursday 23 July 2015 from 3.25% down to 3.00%. Some economists are picking the OCR to be slashed down to a record low of 2.00% by the end of this year. That would deliver floating interest rates at or just below 5.00% per annum.

These are interesting times. The Reserve Bank of Australia is likely to cut their OCR from 2.00% further, with some picking down to 1.50%. These might seem low but Latvia is actually paying (this is not a typo) you to borrow money now, and ten year yield of Switzerland is a paltry 0.04%.

So we will see a lot more uncertainty particularly from China and debt laden southern European countries. There seems little point in fixing for a long term now, given interest rates seem to be heading lower.