Brad Olsen says pressure is continuing to hit mortgage holders as housing stock levels hit eight-year high

Kiwis with mortgages are becoming "deeply uncomfortable" with the current rate levels as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.  

It comes after data released last week from showed there were 11,788 new residential listings in February, up 45 percent on the same month last year, and the highest number of new listings the website has received in the month of February since 2017. 

On top of this, Infometrics Principal Economist Brad Olsen told AM on Monday morning the length of time it takes to sell a house is continuing to increase.  

He said in some parts of the country it was taking a median of 48 days between listing and selling.  

"If it's so difficult to sell a house at the moment, it seems difficult to understand why a huge number of people are listing, you're not seeing huge price gains," he told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.   

Olsen wonders if people are trying to sell before the pressure of their mortgage becomes too much for them.   

"I do wonder if that's part of people who are actually going, 'Look, maybe I need to sell. Those mortgage pressures are coming on, I'm finding it much more difficult to afford the mortgage'," he told AM.  

"I haven't been tipped over yet, the bank hasn't come to me and said 'Look, we're going to have to do a mortgagee sale', but maybe people are starting to go, 'Gosh, this is quite hard, maybe I want to just test the market out and see if I can get a good deal', get out before it gets too hot." 

Thousands of Kiwis re-fixed their mortgages last year from a low rate seen during COVID-19 of around 2-3 percent to rates of around 6-7 percent. 

Olsen said Kiwis with mortgages have been telling him they're struggling with the current rates and feel "uncomfortable" with how much they're paying.  

"We're talking figures that now start with a seven when it comes to people's mortgage rates. That is a lot of money they're having to shell out, particularly when we know that at the moment if you're buying a house, you're spending around 49 percent of your average household income to service that first-year mortgage," Olsen said.  

"You take into account all of those numbers and I do think these figures might well be implying there is a little bit more pressure on out there, not sort of absolute red alert, but people starting to make a little bit of a move to make sure they understand what the market is and if they can, they do look like they might be wanting to get out a little bit quicker than otherwise."  

But Kiwis with mortgages did receive some good news on Monday morning, with ASB announcing it had slashed some of its home lending rates for the second time in a week.  

It comes after the Reserve Bank kept the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 5.5 percent for the sixth straight meeting after tightening it 12 consecutive times before that. 

Watch the full interview above.