The first dramatic evidence has emerged that Auckland's sizzling property market is cooling off - with the rate of rising home prices halving in the past 12 months.
Fresh CoreLogic data released to the Weekend Herald has revealed Auckland house values rose by 12.2 per cent last year - half the rate of increase in 2015.
And the figure could drop even further to just 10 per cent this year.
Other key findings in the CoreLogic stats include:
• Nationwide property has hit the $1 trillion mark for the first time. In comparison NZ listed stocks are worth a combined $114 billion,
• Auckland investors increased last year after being initially being affected by the loan-to-value ratio restrictions from late 2015, accounting for 43 per cent of sales,
• The QV House Price Index shows annual growth in Hamilton peaked at 31.5 per cent in July 2016, while Tauranga's peak was a month later at 28.5 per cent,
• Auckland movers and investors continue to buy up in Tauranga and Hamilton. Interest by locals in those cities is also increasing competition for fast reducing housing stock and subsequently higher house prices.
• Net migration, low interest rates and low supply continue to contribute to rising house prices across the country.
Nick Goodall, CoreLogic senior research analyst, told the Weekend Herald that the rate of growth in the Auckland region in 2017 could drop to 10 per cent.
That was partly due to the increased LVR restrictions.
"Values might rise slightly less than in 2016, maybe by about 10 per cent," he said.
"It's difficult to put a number on it because there are unknowns like the general election posing the possibility of a change in Government, the Australian economy improving which could slow our net migration and international uncertainty with Trump coming in as US president.
"But in general, I'd expect a slightly lower rate of growth than in last year."
The release of the CoreLogic stats follow comments from Peter Thompson, Barfoot & Thompson's managing director, this month that Auckland prices had "eased".
The city's biggest realtor had 3270 properties on its books at the end of December, up 35 per cent from a year earlier, and the biggest available stock at the end of the year for four years. Barfoot had 776 new listings in December, less than half than in November, though still up 2.5 per cent from a year earlier.
The December median sale price fell $10,000 from November to December - down to $840,000 - and sales volumes fell from 947 in November to 721 last month.
Thompson added there "was certainly no suggestion that current prices are under any great downward pressure and normal sales numbers are being achieved."
The CoreLogic data showed Auckland bucked the trend of surrounding areas where the QV House Price Index showed big rises, including in Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga.
"Nationwide residential property continues to increase in value and has now ticked over the $1 trillion mark," CoreLogic said.
Economic indicators remained positive but strong sales in the first half of the year had fallen away through a lack of listings, especially in Auckland, the researchers said.
"After increasing throughout 2016, the latest QV House Price Index figures show year nationwide value growth has slowed in the latter months, with quarterly growth now only 1.3 per cent."
Jane Turner, ASB senior economist, is forecasting a strong year economically.
"2017 should be a good year for NZ. That is assuming the rest of the world also holds together. There are many uncertainties on the global outlook - and President-elect Trump is the biggest unknown.
"But now the groundwork has been laid for the NZ economy to shift back into high gear. Strong population growth and low interest rates have fuelled construction demand. A tourism boom has the retail sector humming. The labour market has tightened and NZ households feel more confident. And dairy prices have finally turned around," she said.
Gary Lin, who originally bought Auckland houses only so he could play World of Warcraft on his computer all day every day, is unperturbed by the Auckland value slow-down.
"Growth could be only 5 per cent this year but that doesn't worry me. I anticipated that already. It's just a normal part of the cycle, there will be booms and flat times, especially in Auckland. Units I bought in 2010 have trebled in value so I can't complain."
The investor with 13 properties worth $8.5 million, has borrowed $5 million, gets gross rent before expenses of $310,000 annually and net around $30,000 to $40,000 "because of the mortgage, tax, maintenance, insurance, management expenses, body corporate fees and council rates. They all add up."
The 33-year-old - originally from Guangzhou in China who moved here at the age of 13 in 1996 and who became a New Zealand citizen in 1999 - is a civil engineer who started buying property in June 2010 with a $200,000 wedding gift from his father. He and wife Cindy bought one Mt Wellington place for as little as $173,000 and he has noticed a big change in the market.
"Low offers now get accepted," he said, telling how many auctioned properties were being passed in, sales volumes were low and one St John's place expected to sell for $750,000 went for only $626,000: "That's the effect of investors leaving the market."
The Reserve Bank has for many years warned about the housing market and how a severe correction could pose risks for the financial system and the economy.
Lin, a wealth coach with Ronovationz.com, says there are a dozen reasons to become a landlord and he has made a YouTube video on this too.
He lists the reasons as:
1. Buy once, get paid forever
2. Rental and passive income
3. Someone else pays
5. Capital gains
7. Add value
8. Tax advantages
11. Supply and demand