Housing soaking up more of New Zealand household incomes

WELLINGTON -- Ever more New Zealand households are spending more than a quarter of their household income on housing, the government statistics agency said Friday.

From the year ended June 2007 to June 2016, the proportion of households spending a quarter or more of their total household income on housing costs rose 5.5 percentage points, to 31.3 percent, according to Statistics New Zealand.

In the past three years, more of the household budget was taken up by housing and household utilities expenditure than previously, said a statement from the agency.

Between June 2013 and June 2016, average weekly household expenditure increased by 17.1 percent to 1,300 NZ dollars (923 U.S. dollars) a week, with spending on housing and household utilities contributing the most to the increase.

Housing and household utilities expenditure includes expenses such as mortgage principal payments, rent, maintenance and alterations, property rates and energy.

Over the same three years, household income increased 11.7 percent on average to an annual 95,898 NZ dollars (68,068 U.S. dollars) before tax.

The figures follow concerns raised by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) on Wednesday that rising debt resulting from soaring home pricescontinues to pose a risk to New Zealand's financial system.

While house price inflation in the largest city of Auckland, home to a third of the population, had softened recently, house price to income ratios remained among the highest in the world, said an RBNZ Financial Stability Report.

Vulnerabilities in the housing market had increased in the past six months and house price pressures were spreading beyond Auckland to the rest of the country, said the report.

"Credit to the household sector is growing rapidly, and the household debt-to-disposable income ratio now stands at 165 percent, a record high," said the report.

"Rising house prices continue to reflect low interest rates, steady income growth, and an imbalance between population growth and the rate of house building. There is a risk that a reversal of any of these factors could cause a significant market correction."

[ Editor: zyq ]


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