2 Aug 2017

Call to exempt first home buyers from lending restrictions

11:27 am on 2 August 2017

First home buyers should be exempt from lending restrictions to help them get a foothold in the market, Auckland's biggest real estate firm says.

An auction sign outside a house for sale in Auckland.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Barfoot and Thompson director Peter Thompson said he had held "informal talks" with Treasury officials about scrapping the 20 percent deposit requirement for those who wanted to buy a property for less than $600,000.

The lending restriction was introduced by the Reserve Bank two years ago in a bid to cool Auckland's rampant housing market.

It had worked, but it also meant first home buyers who were now struggling to get financing from banks because they didn't have a 20 percent deposit, Mr Thompson said.

"We believe first home buyers should be an area that could be relaxed a little bit to entice them to get into property," he said.

Treasury could "see some sense in it", he said.

It should also apply to anyone wanting to upgrade their family home for less than the $600,000 threshold, he said.

Only 4 percent of Barfoot and Thompson's sales were for properties selling for less than that, down from about 25 percent two years ago, he said.

Exempting buyers in this category would make homes in Auckland's outer suburbs more appealing to buy, he added.

Figures from CoreLogic show 22 percent of sales in Auckland went to first home buyers in the second quarter of this year.

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