New Zealanders blame investors, foreigners and net migration for the housing crisis, with only 11 per cent accepting the Government's view that lack of supply is the leading cause, according to a survey by the BNZ.

The BNZ Financial Futures survey, which polled 2000 people and was conducted by Colmar Brunton, found that 35 per cent of kiwis rated property investors as the leading cause of the crisis.  About 25 per cent blamed either net migration or foreign investors for the overheated property market.

BNZ chief executive Anthony Healy said he was surprised by how low the number citing supply as the key issue was. "I've got a very strong view that supply is the most critical issue," he said. The results suggested the industry and government weren't doing a good enough job of explaining the issue, he said.

But supply was a complex issue which involved many factors.

"It is harder to observe the supply shortage...it is not an issue you can look at and touch. Whereas when you go to an auction and you see people who are migrants, or look like foreigners or you go to an auction and you know there are investors buying, it's easy to put your finger on those things."

There had been some progress with council and the Unitary Plan and the Government looking at special housing zones, he said. "But I don't think we yet have a fully joined up plan." Healy said he supported some regulatory measures but wasn't convinced they provided a long-term solution.

The Reserve Bank had done a good job with its introduction of loan-to-value ratios (LVRs).

The tougher rules for investors have been credited with helping cool the Auckland market in the past two months. "They do have some impact but they are temporary in nature," Healy said. It was important to remember they were primarily introduced by the Reserve Bank to regulate and de-risk the banking sector, he said. "They can't solve the housing crisis."

Despite its political unpopularity Healy said he was a "fan of a capital gains tax." That was partly because he came from Australia where it has been in place since 1985.  But, you certainly still see those housing affordability issues in Sydney and Melbourne. I think that [the CGT] is about getting a more equitable distribution of tax base for investors."

Healy is less keen on debt to income ratios - something the Reserve Bank has been exploring for several months. Tighter restrictions on how much people on lower incomes could borrow would hit young first home buyers the hardest, he said.  "Sure their income is lower when they start paying their mortgage but if they've got good long-term career prospects and if they are measured on their current income than they are going to be more restricted than before."

He argued they would fail to catch investors and that the banks already run their own debt-to-income tests on lending. Regardless of regulatory changes, Healy warned home owners to brace themselves for higher interest rates next year. "As credit growth keeps accelerating banks have to go offshore to borrow and there is a limit to capacity for banks to do that."

International funding costs were rising and there are also regulations about how much funding banks can do in offshore markets. That was putting more pressure on banks to raise funds domestically from deposits. "Although today because of the competition deposits are now just as expensive [as a funding source] as offshore lending."

"What you're going to find is that not only will banks be restricted in how much credit they can advance but the cost of the funding is going up. I think consumers have to think about what they can afford, and assume that rates will rise, when they borrow."

Source: NZHerald