Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Auckland housing boom warning

Photo / Chris Gorman
Photo / Chris Gorman

Homeowners are increasingly holding on to their properties and some would-be buyers are getting fed up with Auckland's record prices, says New Zealand's largest property valuation company.

House values continue to rise in main centres - Auckland prices are up more than 11 per cent on the same time last year.

But Quotable Value yesterday noted a slowing in the trend, and said the continued lack of listings in New Zealand's biggest market was worsening as people held on to properties.

"Many buyers are also starting to feel that house prices are unreasonable and are waiting to see if houses become more affordable," said Quotable Value operations manager Kerry Stewart.

Mr Stewart said reports from valuers suggested a "degree of concern" over the affordability of properties at all levels.

His view was backed by QV valuer Pieter Geill, who said young buyers in Wellington were put off by high prices, which meant more expensive homes were taking longer to sell.

Rising values

A buyer backlash against constantly climbing prices was to be expected, said Associate Professor Deborah Levy, head of the property department at Auckland University.

"They've got to be sensible and look at their own affordability. Not everybody is going to be able to afford a house with the market as it is at the moment, so you've got to look at your own needs and your own wants."

Mr Stewart said the concerns meant the lack of listings in Auckland was getting worse as people decided to hold on to properties.

Another reason for the low turnover was the release of the council's draft unitary plan, which will decide what can be built and where.

People who owned properties in areas earmarked for high-density development could be considering staying put because their homes would go up in value, Mr Stewart said.

"Some people who would otherwise perhaps have been considering to sell now may be thinking it may be preferable to hold on ... to when the plan comes through in case they can get a higher amount."

Real estate company Barfoot & Thompson last week reported an "exceptional" March for sales.

"We sold 1430 homes in the month, our highest number in a month for nearly 10 years," said managing director Peter Thompson.

New listings during March were solid at 1476, but were down 15.8 per cent on February and 4 per cent on March last year.

QV yesterday released its monthly snapshot of the property market.

The national average sale price for the first three months of this year was 3.3 per cent above the previous peak of late 2007.

Mr Stewart said another reason for the low number of Auckland listings might be that sellers didn't want to sell at what could be the peak of the market.

"If they were to pay a million dollars for a home at auction today, is that a safe bet or is it a slightly over-inflated market and they might lose a bit of value in due course?"

Not all commentators agreed with QV's conclusions.

Alistair Helm said demand in Auckland was significant and consistent, but supply was limited.

"I don't think there are people sitting there thinking 'should we sell or should we not?' - I think the people who are ready to sell are selling."

Fellow commentator Olly Newland said all "booms and busts" had to end sometime.

"This might be the end of this particular ride and heading towards a more sensible market."

* Read the Herald's live news blog here.

- APNZ

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