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ASB Housing Confidence Survey

MEDIA RELEASE
7 August 2006

EMBARGOED UNTIL 6AM, 8 August 2006


ASB Housing Confidence Survey

Statement made by Anthony Byett, Chief Economist ASB

- More people believe now is a good time to buy

- Slight increase in house price increase expectations

- Interest rate rises still a concern

Having the time to make a more considered decision on buying a home and less upward price pressure has seen an increase in the number of people who consider now is a good time to buy, according to the latest quarterly ASB Housing Confidence survey.

Since mid 2003, with the exception of only one quarter, people on average have considered it a bad time to buy, at an average net -7%. Now, in the July 2006 quarter, a net 5% have said they considered it was a good time to buy. This sentiment is a reflection of the steady and more balanced housing market than has been seen over the last few years.

While those buying homes were happier with the market, people continue to be less optimistic about house price increases - a net 7% this quarter expect house price increases in the next 12 months, compared with a net 2% in the previous quarter. This small rise in confidence is backed up in recent reports from various sources that any slowdown in the housing market should be moderate.

In fact the housing market has lifted a little in recent months, with median sale prices continuing to rise in a number of areas. In addition, the national median sale time decreased slightly in June. While the number of dwelling sales remains well below the peaks seen in 2003, it is still above the average sale price, and has increased since early 2006.

The overall picture is one of more balance between buyers and sellers. People with realistic expectations can generally buy and sell their houses and do so in a more relaxed manner than in recent years.

It is important to remember, though, that a flat to small average house price increase still means prices are falling for some properties. As always, it is therefore prudent to take care in the sale and purchase process, giving due consideration to all personal circumstances and commitments, in order not to become a forced seller.

The majority of survey respondents still expect higher interest rates - a net 41%, up from a net 35%. While there has been little change in the official cash rate, many people will be rolling over their fixed rate mortgage in coming months – over 40% of fixed rate home loans roll over in the next 12 months. With the rate rises of the last few years factored in, the new rates at which people fix are likely to be significantly higher than before, placing more pressure on household income.

ENDS

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