Property Institute of New Zealand CEO Ashley Church says the Reserve Bank Loan-to-Value restrictions are an “artificial constraint” for home buyers and that there is a question mark over whether they have ended the property boom or temporarily slowed it .

Property sales volumes have fallen by 24 per cent nationally over the past 12 months and house prices are levelling off in most parts of the country.

“We’ve been here before, many times – and we know what happens next,” he says.

His advice to home buyers is not to panic.

“While there may be small pockets of the country where prices drop a bit more dramatically – history shows that kiwi house prices tend to settle, rather than drop, at the end of each boom,” he says

“You need to go back to the mid-70s to find the last serious collapse in Kiwi house prices – and that was driven by a series of factors that simply aren’t present in the current housing market.”

Property prices dropped more than 15 per cent between 2007 and 2011, as a result of the GFC, according to research by Arthur Grimes and Sean Hyland.

“Changes to immigration targets won’t solve the housing crisis,” says Church.

“Regardless of who wins the election – immigration targets are probably going to be lowered. If Nationals wins, lowering those targets will be part of the price of a coalition with NZ First.

“If Labour wins, the same applies – and they’re also wedded to their own campaign commitments to lower targets. This will slow down the pressure on housing – but it won’t solve it as the backlog is already around 40,000 homes in Auckland alone.”

Church also predicts that the incoming governor of the Reserve Bank will ease or drop the LVR restrictions over the next 12 to 18 months. “But will be ready to clamp them back on if prices look to be getting out of hand again.”

He says bank mortgage lending restrictions are here for a while, saying the current “rationing” of mortgage lending, by banks, is being driven by a mix of Australian banking regulations and a desire to create a more ‘sustainable’ mortgage market where lending matches the availability of funds from New Zealand depositors.

“Expect this to continue for a while – although it would only take a change in policy by one bank deciding to aggressively chase market share and this could quickly change.”