Government's new housing rules seemingly spook some investors out of housing market

The Government's new housing measures could have already spooked investors out of the market.

Some open homes were oddly quiet on Sunday, suggesting investors may have taken a step back to rethink buying a rental. 

A two-bedroom new build on Auckland's North Shore had 40 groups go through its open home last weekend. This weekend, you could count the viewers on one hand. 

"We had a couple of groups through today, we had five yesterday," says Kris Cunningham, Harcourts Real Estate agent. "We do typically see a drop-off in the second weekend, but to this extent, I wouldn't have expected this much."

A similar property in the Wellington suburb of Johnsonville was busier with a steady stream of possible buyers. Investor demand hasn't cooled off in the capital. 

"With what I'm actively selling, we have investors and first-home buyers," says Leigh Adgo, Tommy's Real Estate agent.

The Government's new housing policies came into effect on Saturday, so now if a home is bought and sold within 10 years, it'll be taxed, except for the family home and new builds. And investors will face bigger tax bills. 

But Cunningham has a warning if first-home buyers were hoping any of that would get them a bargain.

"There's certainly no indications of prices coming down as of yet," he says.

Newshub understands it's instead caused some sellers to increase prices in Auckland to meet the increase in the spending cap for a home loan grant.

"Unfortunately I think the increase in the price cap in the short term will just put prices up $50,000," Cunningham says.

Things could get tougher for existing homeowners this week. Mortgage holidays come to an end on Wednesday, meaning banks won't have to be as nice to any customers still feeling the pinch from COVID-19.

In the first week of January, 348 customers weren't paying any of their mortgage, or just paying interest, compared to more than 1000 customers last year. 

Mortgage broker Stephen Robertson says while most people have restarted repayments, some will struggle to. 

"There will be people that struggle who have been holding out for circumstances to improve and they just haven't," says Robertson, director of MyMoney.

The Reserve Bank's been turning a blind eye to unpaid mortgages for a whole year. 

It says when that ends this week, banks will still be able to offer deferrals, however, loans will be subject to the normal regulatory requirements.