Fall in monthly mortgage arrears indicates Kiwis adapting to inflationary environment - expert

  • 01/09/2023

As people get to grips with high interest rates and the cost of living, the number of mortgage loan arrears in New Zealand has started to decline.

But while homeowners are getting on top of their budget, personal and vehicle loan arrears are soaring.

The latest Centrix Credit Indicator found in July, vehicle loan arrears hit a three-year high, increasing to 6 percent - a 31 percent year-on-year rise. Meanwhile, personal loan arrears were up 9 percent in July, increasing 17 percent year-on-year.

Appearing on AM, Centrix managing director Keith McLaughlin said it was not all bad news.

He said one of the key things in the report is that for the second month in a row, the number of mortgage arrears has declined.

"That sends a very positive signal to the market that perhaps households in New Zealand are getting to grips with the new environment… and are now managing their household budget better," McLaughlin said.

But while mortgage delinquencies fell month-on-month, there were 18,800 mortgage accounts past due in July, a 31 percent year-on-year increase.

Looking across the board over 400,000 in arrears, but it has been that level for quite some time now.

He said the reason behind the rise in arrears for personal and car loans could be due to New Zealanders prioritising their payments. He said Kiwis tend to pay their mortgage first, auto loans second, followed by credit cards and personal loans.

"It is quite unusual to see two months with mortgage arrears coming down but then a bit of a blowout in auto loans and I think that may just be a factor of there has been quite a growth in the auto loan portfolio over the last 12 months and this could be the flow through effect of that," McLaughlin said.

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