The gulf between the most optimistic and the most pessimistic cities in New Zealand continues to widen.
Colliers International's fourth-quarter 2012 commercial property investor confidence survey shows that in the main centres Auckland retail investors were the most confident.
The survey asks commercial property market participants about their views on the outlook for the next 12 months.
The results of the latest survey were compiled from 4485 responses. The confidence of Auckland retail investors rocketed from just 2 per cent to 14 per cent while Wellington retail investors remained the most pessimistic at minus 12 per cent. Wellington's office investors reflected an event greater negative mood at minus 18 per cent.
Alan McMahon, national director of research and consulting at Colliers International, says the gulf between the most optimistic and the most pessimistic cities in New Zealand continues to widen.
Overall, Christchurch is the most positive city at 53 per cent optimistic, in stark contrast to the most negative, Palmerston North, which is a full 80 percentage points behind at minus 26 per cent pessimistic.
The 80 percentage point confidence gap in the final quarter of last year is much greater than the 62 per cent spread recorded six months ago and a 52 per cent difference in March 2012.
The average result for New Zealand as a whole for the last quarter was a net 15 per cent, meaning more respondents think things will get better for commercial property investors over the next year, by the margin of 15 per cent.
McMahon says the extensive spread between the most and least confident cities reflects the divergent expectations of regional economic prospects.
"New demand for property of whatever type arises from expansion of population, businesses or the public sector.
"That extra demand can push prices up and/or trigger new supply.
"Where there is an expectation of expansion then investors see a change to their benefit in the supply demand balance and the reverse also applies."
Christchurch, Queenstown and Auckland commercial property market participants are once again the most optimistic in New Zealand about the upcoming investment climate but for different reasons.
"People in Christchurch have felt very upbeat about the future for some time now, which is not surprising given the lows the city has been through since the earthquakes," McMahon says.
"Over the longer term we expect Christchurch to become less optimistic about the year ahead, as some sort of normality is eventually restored. Queenstown's consistent optimism can be attributed to the ongoing strong growth in tourism, while Auckland investors feel positive about the strong projected population growth which will fuel investment in the region."
Despite the negative regional results, McMahon says there are several positive factors at work in the commercial property market.
"The market has at last achieved stability and we are now waiting for growth. There is strong demand from private investors, with syndications proving popular. "The expectation that the cost of debt will stay low for the foreseeable future is also encouraging decision-making."
Final quarterly survey
Subject: Commercial property investor confidence
Undertaken by: Colliers International
Results: Auckland retail investors boost confidence
Christchurch is most positive city.
Confidence gap widens between cities.