Tauranga housing market on rise

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While the Auckland housing market is finally slowing, other centres are on the rise.

Nationwide residential property values surged ahead in the year to December 2015, at a rate of more than 10 per cent faster than for the same period the previous year.

The latest statistics from Quotable Value (QV) showed nationwide residential property values increased from $488,674 in December 2014 to $558,146 in December 2015, an increase of 14 .2 per cent.

Home values in the Auckland region increased 22.5 per cent, from $761,858 in December 2014 to $933,264 in December 2015. They rose 4.1 per cent over the past three months but only 0.2 per cent over the final month of 2015.

Sales volumes were also up on 2014 for much of year with the exception of January 2015. March 2015 had the highest number of sales at over 10,000 residential properties sold in that month.

QV national spokesperson Andrea Rush said massive increases in Auckland home values during the first nine months of last year happened at a rate not seen since the early 1990s, leading the government and Reserve Bank to introduce measures to curb Auckland investors.

"These huge hikes in home values and pending restrictions on investors saw many look to move or invest outside of the Auckland region for more affordable homes or better rental yields during 2015."

"This resulted in an increase in activity and demand in previously slow housing markets in upper and central North Island centres including Hamilton, Tauranga, the Waikato district, Hawkes Bay, Whangarei and Rotorua," Ms Rush said.

Tauranga home values continue to rise quickly, up 18.2 per cent year on year and 7.8 per cent over the past three months of the year.

Home values in Hamilton city also surged ahead during 2015, up 19.5 per cent year on year and 6.7 per cent since October, which was a slightly slower rate than the previous two months so the rate of value increases now appears to be starting to slow a little.

Many of the North Island provincial centres on the outskirts of the Super City and also within close proximity of Auckland began to see significant value increases during the middle of the year as more buyers turned their sights outside of the over-heated Auckland market.

Statistics show first home buyers returned to the market in 2015. Back in October 2013 the Reserve Bank put in place the Loan to Value (LVR) speed limits which limited banks' lending to customers with low deposits. That had the effect of decreasing the first home buyer share of sales in Auckland.

CoreLogic director of research Jonno Ingerson said first home buyers are finding ways back into the market.

"As a result the share of first home buyer sales is now back to 23 per cent and climbing. The story is similar outside Auckland."

"Another clear trend in the types of buyers active in various markets was the spread of Auckland people and money to the surrounding areas. From the buyer classification analysis we can see people's movement patterns. During 2015 there was an increase in Aucklanders moving to Hamilton, Tauranga and Waikato District."

In Tauranga this movement of Aucklanders has been increasing steadily since 2012 when they accounted for just 12 per cent of movers, increasing to 30 per cent by the end of last year.

Also in Tauranga 10 per cent of 2014 sales were to investors buying in Tauranga for the first time, this increased to 13 per cent at the end of 2015.

"With the various Government and Reserve Bank restrictions now beginning to take effect, and foreign buyers apparently much less active, our expectations are that Auckland values will drop a few percent over the next few months," Mr Ingerson said.

"However mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, migration at historic highs, and there is a substantial shortage of housing in Auckland. These are strong factors putting upward pressure on Auckland prices, and as a result any drop in values is likely to be shallow and short-lived."

"While Auckland may take a breather, the surrounding areas are likely to continue to rise, driven both by local demand and by Aucklanders choosing to move to more affordable locations. However the value growth we saw in Hamilton in late 2015 of more than 10% per quarter will not continue, instead settling back to a more moderate rate of value increase. Most of the top half of the North Island will continue to increase likewise," Mr Ingerson said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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