Official call for first-home buyers to have lending restrictions loosened amid plunging NZ house sales

The Real Estate Institute wants first-home buyers carved out from mortgage lending restrictions in the face of shrinking house sales numbers.

The REINZ house price index was unchanged in July from a month earlier and was up 1.2 per cent from July 2016, the real estate agents group said.

Excluding Auckland, house prices rose 7.5 per cent from a year earlier, while in Auckland they were 2.1 per cent lower.

Nationwide sales volumes dropped 25 per cent last month compared to July 2016, with Waikato sales dropping 32 per cent and Auckland sales down 31 per cent.

The national median house price increased 3.4 per cent to $518,000 in July from last year, while the median number of days it took to sell a home rose to 35 days from 31 days.

Record migration and low interest rates have bolstered the country's housing market, prompting the central bank to clamp down on the level of high loan-to-value ratio mortgages in an effort to reduce the risk to the nation's financial stability.

In Auckland, the country's largest city where rising prices have made housing unaffordable for many, the median sales price dipped an annual 1.2 per cent to $830,000, although REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said the city would "likely to be protected from significant price decreases in the short term" due to the housing shortage and population growth.

"The number of sales across New Zealand has dropped significantly in comparison to the same time last year," she said.

"A key reason for this is that the two biggest hurdles to purchasing a house right now are access to finance as the banks continue to tighten their lending criteria and LVR restrictions."

This created an "intimidating barrier to entry", particularly for those trying to save for their first home, she said.

"The LVR restrictions have done their job of slowing the market, but now it seems they are acting as a handbrake which is why REINZ is calling for LVRs to be reviewed for first time buyers."

Nationwide, more houses moved into the $500,000-to-$750,000 price bracket, with 27 per cent sold for that in July, compared to 24 per cent last year.

Fewer were sold for less than $500,000, at 47.8 per cent compared to 49.4 per cent a year earlier, and the proportion of houses selling for over $1 million dropped to 12.9 per cent from 13.8 per cent last July.

The Real Estate Institute wants lending rules to be eased to help young Kiwis into homes. Source: 1 NEWS



Community demands answers over what caused kids to become seriously ill at a Carterton school

The Wairarapa community are demanding answers to what caused children at Carterton South End's school to become sick, after a strange smell wafted over the school yesterday afternoon.

Police ruled out initial reports that a plane flying overhead may have dropped a toxic substance on the school.

Parents at the school are angered and want answers as to what caused the illnesses.

Cody Pratt's daughter was one of the students who vomited after smelling a sulphur like substance.

"It was scary having my daughter in the school premises and being told I couldn't go in to get her was pretty daunting," said Mr Pratt.

"I definitely want to know what has gone on.

"Children came in after lunch and reported feeling unwell after the substance, or smelling a smell," he said.

Ten students were taken to hospital but returned to their homes last night.

The school was cleared to be re-opened for classes on Monday.

Police say they have conducted a thorough examination of the school and still haven't found a point of cause.

Police inquiries will now focus on the surrounding neighbourhood.

Police now believe they can rule out initial reports that a plane flying overhead may have dropped a toxic substance on the school. Source: 1 NEWS

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Council trees in central Otago being chopped down by people helping themselves to the timber

The Central Otago council has called on police help to crack down on people illegally cutting down council trees.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan argues that the stumps in central Otago are evidence of illegal felling of trees by members of the public.

"Randomly coming up and knocking trees down without taking any safety measures in a place that the public walk their dogs, ride their bikes and so forth is actually really dangerous, as well as theft," said Mr Cadogan.

Culprits have been forced to hand the wood over to local charities when they have been caught.

But the council now says they will be handing the thieves over to police.

"We can't just keep taking that attitude so from now on it's going to be prosecutions, no questions asked, no warnings."

Families in need of timber in Alexandra are urged to use other sources, like the Salvation Army who hand out free and low cost wood, with the Rotary Club helping to split donated costs.

Alexandra Rotary president Charles French says this option is much safer.

"It is available here and there isn't really any need for people to go their own way with this," said Mr French.

The council says their concern is the safety of the public and the thieves.

It's becoming such a problem across the region the council's now cracking down and involving police. Source: 1 NEWS

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Man dies after falling into Mt Ruapehu's Crater Lake

A man has died after falling into Crater Lake at Mount Ruapehu.

Emergency services were flown to the scene via helicopter at around 1.50pm.

The man was recovered from the lake by members of the group he was with before emergency services arrived.

The death will be referred to the Coroner.

Mt Ruapehu's crater lake. Source: 1 NEWS


Air New Zealand to ditch Vietnam flights next year

Air New Zealand will stop flying to Vietnam from next year.

The airline said that over the past year, due to engine problems, it has consistently had nearly half of its fleet of 13 787 Dreamliners grounded while their engines are serviced in Singapore.

As a result, Air New Zealand has leased three aircraft, but to prevent further disruptions it will stop flying to Vietnam next year, suspend services to Haneda in Tokyo, and reduce the frequency of flights to Argentina and Taipei.

Chief executive Christopher Luxon said he will meet Rolls-Royce management in London next month to seek reassurances the engines will be fixed soon.

Air New Zealand Dreamliner. Source: 1 NEWS