Expert urges homeowners are 'just fine' despite rising mortgage rates and threats of negative equity

Rising interest rates, high inflation and the threat of losing your house - these are the worrying economic outlooks revealed by the Reserve Bank's new report.

But a leading economist has called for a bit of perspective on all this, saying all the economic doom and gloom could not be further from the truth.

If you heard the news from the Reserve Bank on Wednesday, you might be a bit depressed by the current economic outlook.

Its Financial Stability Report found middle-income earners are being hit hard by high inflation and rising mortgage rates.

The average percentage of people's disposable income used on debt servicing is expected to jump from 9 percent to 20 percent based on current mortgage rates. 

The cost of living is rising and house prices are falling - but leading economic commentator Bernard Hickey said all that doom and gloom is just wrong.

Speaking to The Project, Hickey said most people who own homes have plenty of "spare room" and their incomes have been rising at double-digit rates.

According to Stats NZ, in the September quarter, total weekly gross wage payments rose 10.4 percent from a year ago to $2.7b.

"When you look at the people who own homes and the ones who have mortgages - and remember, all the noise and worry is about people who own homes - they are sitting on equity of $1.3 trillion and there's only about $350 billion worth of mortgages out there," Hickey said. 

"So the people who are really struggling are not the ones who own homes - the ones who own homes are just fine."

The Reserve Bank's latest report found a threat of a large number of home loan borrowers heading into negative equity if house prices keep tumbling - but Hickey said there is still no need to panic.

He said homeowners shouldn't worry unless they are selling their house.

"The only people that are in real trouble here are the people who are getting divorced and having to sell, or the people who just died and they have some other problems," he said.

On the brighter side, Hickey said most people in the market expect interest rates to fall next year.

"Remember all these high-interest rates right now are going to slow things right down next year and that is when we will see interest rates fall."