14 Feb 2011

Housing market must stabilise before Reserve Bank moves

6:02 am on 14 February 2011

Goldman Sachs senior economist Philip Borkin says the Reserve Bank may not make any moves this year if the housing market does not stabilise following the worst monthly sales on record in January.

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand says 3250 houses were sold last month, the lowest for any month since the body began publishing records in 1992.

The figures also show the national median price fell 2.9% in the year to January.

Mr Borkin says activity on the housing market remains shaky and he questions signs of stability. He says house prices are still under a lot of downward pressure.

Mr Borkin says the House Price Index, which tries to adjust for the quality of homes sold, fell 2.6% in the month - that's the biggest monthly fall it's experienced since at least 1992.

He says he believes the Reserve Bank won't move on interest rates until house prices at least start to stabilise. The Official Cash Rate has been 3% since 29 July, 2010.