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Rising cost of housing outpaces income gains in past decade

Thursday 19th October 2017

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The country's average annual household income gained more than 40 percent in the past decade, but was still outpaced by rising housing costs, Statistics New Zealand figures show.

Since 2007, average annual household income has increased 42 percent to $98,600, while average annual housing costs have risen 51 percent to $16,000 in that time, the annual household income survey shows. Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, rose 20 percent over the decade, Stats NZ said.

In the year ended June 2017, average annual personal income rose 7.7 percent to $51,900. Average weekly housing costs were $318.50, almost unchanged from 2016, and lower mortgage interest rates helped to largely dampen any increases in housing costs, the government agency said. Average mortgage interest payments dropped 12 percent to $250.80 a week over the year.

The official cash rate has been on hold since November last year at a record low and the central bank’s forecasts show it does not expect to lift rates until September 2019 at the earliest. Acting Reserve Bank governor Grant Spencer kept the benchmark rate unchanged at 1.75 percent as widely expected at the September review and signalled no change on the immediate horizon.

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Steven Joyce cautioned potential property buyers from getting too comfortable with current rates, saying they should consider whether any mortgage debt taken on is still affordable in three or four years if rates rise. Figures earlier this year showed household debt rose to a record 167 percent of disposable income this year. The bulk of that was for housing, which increased 9 percent to $232 billion as of January.

Today's data show 21 percent of renting households spent 40 percent or more of their household income on rent and housing costs in the June 2017 year, while 7.8 percent of homeowners spent that much of their income on housing. 

A tenth of respondents to the survey said they didn't earn enough to get by, while 65 percent said their income was enough or more than enough to meet their everyday needs. 


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