Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Cheaper houses going begging

12 Felix St, Onehunga, a recently renovated 2-bedroom home passed in at $570,000 with a starting bid of $500,00.
12 Felix St, Onehunga, a recently renovated 2-bedroom home passed in at $570,000 with a starting bid of $500,00.

Homes in first-time buyers' price range - which were being snapped up a few months ago - are now struggling to attract interest, auctions at Auckland's biggest real estate agency this week suggest.

Of 19 properties under the Herald's eye, only 13 sold at auction. Several were below $600,000. Those offered at $1 million-plus were still selling well.

Agents say there is an absence of young Kiwis inquiring about properties and attending auctions for lower-priced homes in the city and mortgage brokers report a big fall in clients trying to secure funding.

When the Herald visited Barfoot and Thompson's Shortland St auction house yesterday and Wednesday, most people there were middle-aged.

The youngest spoken to were in their mid-30s and bidding on an investment property to supplement the home they already owned.

Harcourts agent V.K. Verma sells properties in the popular first-home suburb of Mt Roskill and said the absence of young buyers was increasingly noticeable.

"They are getting right out of the market now because they can't afford it - not everybody has 20 per cent deposit. It's affecting the low-end properties and there's not many people at auctions."

Inquiries on properties had also tapered right back, he said.

Felix Bogdanovic, a Barfoot and Thompson agent in Onehunga, another area popular with the demographic, said although houses were still selling fewer people were bidding, and those securing the purchases often had support from family.

"[On Wednesday] I had a house that did not reach reserve but the woman came back and with the help of her family she could buy it."

Squirrel Mortgage Brokers' boss John Bolton said his company had seen a 40 to 50 per cent drop in clients trying to buy their first homes.

"That home ownership dream in the Auckland market is looking further and further away," he said.

"For investors it's great because they don't have to compete against first-home buyers but for first-home buyers, they are just stuffed at the moment, and the volumes we are seeing are reflecting that."

"The new people coming in have just given up ... they come in and talk to us. We can't get them preapproved, they're not really that surprised, so it is hard for them and they are deferring their dream of owning a property."

Mr Bolton expected to see house prices shift in three to six months because there were still buyers in the market who received loan approval before the changes came into force.

He said regions out of Auckland would be hit harder by the changes, as there were more cashed-up migrants and investors in the city.

Real estate figures are yet to reflect the changes. The latest Quotable Value figures showed a 14.5 per cent rise in Auckland prices in the year to October, strides ahead of the 8.9 per cent national increase.

QV research director Jonno Ingerson said the impact of the Reserve Bank's caps on low-deposit loans that kicked in on October 1 would be most felt by first-home buyers, and in provincial areas, affecting volume and values, although it would be some months before any evidence showed.

Homes rise at 8.9% in October

New Zealand property values rose at an 8.9 per cent annual pace in October, driven by a shortage of houses in Auckland and Christchurch, according to state valuer Quotable Value.

Property values in the Auckland area rose at a 14.5 per cent annual pace, driven by ongoing demand for housing here, QV research director Jonno Ingerson said.

He said the impact of the Reserve Bank's lending caps would be most felt by first-home buyers, and in provincial areas, affecting volume and values although it would take some months before any evidence became clear.

The Reserve Bank has signalled interest rates are set to rise from a record low 2.5 per cent next year and further increases are likely should lending limits fail to stem rapidly rising house prices.

Auckland's population was outpacing housing supply but fewer potential buyers were turning up at some open homes, QV valuer Bruce Wiggins said.

- NZ Herald

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