Lack of confidence hurts sales

By Abi Thomas

It will be a slow and steady climb out of the real estate lull, a Northland spokesman says, as consumer confidence grows.

Latest Quotable Value (QV) figures from December show a small drop in the average value in Whangarei and Kaipara, and a slight rise in the Far North.

Graham Lester, managing director at Maggie Dixon Real Estate and the Northland spokesman for the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, said the movement was small and mainly seasonal.

The average value of homes in Northland was still relatively low, he said, at $317,887 in the Far North, $326,051 in Whangarei and $307,421 in Kaipara.

The Far North figures were up 2.5 per cent on 12 months previously, while Kaipara's were down 4.3 per cent and Whangarei figures were down 0.7 per cent.

Mr Lester said there was still a lack of economic confidence in Northland which impacted on house sales.

"I think people are still a little conservative," he said.

"There's not a lot of new jobs up here to bring people in to the region."

With values in Auckland shooting up in the figures, that had the potential to push people to buy further north but that would only happen if there were jobs here to be a drawcard, Mr Lester said.

The long Christmas break and the good weather had perhaps made people happier to sit tight until the new business year kicked off, Mr Lester suggested, and he expected sales to pick up from February.

The port expansion was likely to be positive news further down the track, especially for new builds, but slow and steady was a desirable growth rate.

"Otherwise we'll end up with a shortage of workers to build the houses," Mr Lester said.

Northland remained the most pessimistic region in the country in Westpac's latest economic confidence survey conducted in early December.

The region's consumer confidence level fell from 100.2 in September to 97.8 in December, sitting equal with Waikato as the least confident region in New Zealand. The national average is 111.1.

Nationally, values in December were up 1.5 per cent in the previous three months, 5.7 per cent during the year, and 2 per cent above the previous market peak of late 2007.

QV spokesman Jonno Ingerson said that was mainly due to major increases in Auckland values. He said the outlook for 2013 looked to remain variable in response to local economic conditions, but in most areas he expected it to stay relatively flat.

- Northern Advocate

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