Is this the end of the boom? Auckland housing market cools

New figures show Auckland's housing market is cooling off as demand eases. Photo / 123rf
New figures show Auckland's housing market is cooling off as demand eases. Photo / 123rf

Auckland's housing market is cooling off as demand eases, according to figures released by realestate.co.nz

"Auckland was the only region across the country where demand is down on the same period last year," said realestate.co.nz chief executive Brendon Skipper.

Demand in the three months ended November, as measured by listings viewed, in the Auckland region dropped 8.1 per cent compared to the same time last year.

"A slowing rate of [price] growth and a decrease in demand means properties in Auckland are sitting on the market for longer. In turn, this means more options for buyers."

Skipper said the slowdown, coupled with the fact houses were taking longer to sell meant there could be more options for Auckland buyers in the near future.

"It's been such a seller's market in Auckland until recently. We're just now starting to see things normalise," he said. "The asking price went up by only 0.4 per cent in November compared to the previous month which is basically a flatline."

Despite the slower rate of growth, asking prices in the Auckland region hit another record high of $947,141.

All the main centres in the country were cooling and an easing off in the property market is a typical summer trend, however, the figures show the supply issue in Auckland could be slowly resolving itself.

"It's still a seller's market, but the pressure is beginning to ease off," Skipper said.

But while the main centres cool, holiday areas are heating up. Wairarapa, Marlborough and the Coromandel regions are featuring strongly, realestate.co.nz said, while Gisborne and the West Coast are also picking up.

"As we prepare to head into the holiday period, it appears that [an] increasing number of Kiwis are considering investing in a bach or holiday home," Skipper said. "But Kiwis who were looking to buy a holiday pad in the Coromandel in November may have struggled to find one, as the region recorded a drop in new listings in this region."

Meanwhile, the figures showed a hot demand for property in the Manawatu/Whanganui region where houses were turning over quicker than Auckland. Despite growing demand, the region's average price was little increased, hitting $292,292.

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler on Wednesdayalso said the market was cooling.

While debt-to-income (DTI) lending restrictions could be an option for the bank if it saw house price inflation driven by credit, he told Parliament's finance and expenditure committee that he wouldn't use the tool at this stage because house price inflation has moderated in and outside of Auckland.

"What would concern us is if we saw house price inflation starting to pick up in Auckland and elsewhere, and if it was clear that was credit-driven with commitments expanding and continued increases in DTIs. If we started to see those things, that would concern us a great deal. They would be the conditions in which we would consider using the DTIs." Wheeler said.

The bank's latest Financial Stability report shows the percentage of funding drawn by first-home buyers at more than five times their income increased from about 24 per cent to 35 per cent between September 2014 and September 2016.

More than 40 per cent of lending to owner-occupiers was at more five times their income level and more than 60 per cent of lending to investors was at that level in September.

Despite a slowdown in Auckland property price growth in the past six months the bank said the vulnerabilities in the housing market had increased.

"Despite some recent softening, house price growth in Auckland remains high at 9.3 per cent in the year to October, and Auckland's house price-to-income ratio, at 9.6, is among the highest in the world," the Reserve Bank said.

QV housing market figures are due today.

- NZ Herald

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