Property editor of the NZ Herald

House prices slow to rise but Auckland bucks the trend

House prices have risen modestly, with Hawkes Bay and Auckland seeing greater increases. Photo / Dean Purcell
House prices have risen modestly, with Hawkes Bay and Auckland seeing greater increases. Photo / Dean Purcell

Three sets of housing market figures out yesterday show a lacklustre market throughout New Zealand but Auckland bucking the trend.

QV said national property values had continued to gradually rise, but Auckland was leading the market with prices there up 3.7 per cent since January.

Research director Jonno Ingerson said the national value increase in the past year was 0.7 per cent but values were still 4.6 per cent below the market peak of 2007. North Shore values rose rose 3 per cent in the past year, Waitakere 2.3 per cent and Manukau 1.9 per cent.

"The old Auckland City continues to have the fastest-increasing values within the Super City, having increased 5.4 per cent since January and 4.6 per cent over the past year," Mr Ingerson said.

The Real Estate Institute found August's $355,000 national median slipped to $350,000 by last month but the Auckland region's rose from $453,000 to $475,000.

The median in Auckland City, in the old Auckland City Council boundaries, went from $480,000 in August to $540,000 last month, and 663 properties were sold - up from 641 in August.

Hawkes Bay prices were up 8.3 per cent, the highest nationally, followed by Auckland, Wellington and the Nelson/Marlborough region, REINZ reported.

The number of sales throughout New Zealand rose from 5192 in August to 5235 last month. Overall, the number of Auckland sales rose from 1984 to 1922.

REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said Auckland houses were selling on average in 32 days, down one day on August, and well under the national median of 39 days.

"We are continuing to see the national median house price move in a range between $345,000 and $365,000 as it has done for about the last two years, with no strong driver for change in either direction," she said.

"There is clear evidence from across the country that buyers are very focused on value and are well informed about what they can afford and are prepared to pay.

"We're seeing a very interesting market with listings improving - though still reported as tight - plenty of buyer interest, but only on a very rational basis. There is no appetite on the part of buyers to overpay or rush to purchase."

The BNZ-REINZ residential market survey, issued yesterday by BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander, got 600 responses from agents who said first-home buyers were keen but investors were not.

After four months of more agents reporting rising numbers of people at open homes, only 8 per cent of agents reported that this month, said the survey.

"In Auckland City and Waitakere City, strong positive sentiment reigns with mild investor interest," the survey said.

The survey goes out to more than 10,000 licensed agents and found that overall the housing market continued to improve but that the pace of the recovery had ebbed slightly.

Goldman Sachs economist Philip Borkin said the REINZ results were a mixed bag but too few houses were being listed to spark the market up.

"With the length of time to sell continuing to fall and prices remaining supported, it suggests to us that the tight inventory situation - due to a low number of new listings - is still a key driver of current market trends and partly explains the slow grind nature of turnover," Mr Borkin said.

ASB economist Christina Leung also noted the listing drought.

"Nonetheless, the tightness in the housing market is helping to support a recovery in house prices, and we expect further modest price increases over the coming year."

Up, up, up

* QV: National values up 0.7 per cent, Auckland values up 3.7 per cent.
* REINZ: National median sank, Auckland median rose to $475,000.
* BNZ-REINZ Survey: Agents reporting positive Auckland sentiment.
Sources: QV, REINZ, BNZ-REINZ survey.

- NZ Herald

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