Like a Brendon McCullum batting innings, Auckland's residential house prices have yet again been dispatched to previously unseen boundaries in front of a disbelieving crowd.
Back-to-back-to-back rises over 27 months have seen median house values continue to trend ever-higher. And with the underlying drivers of the residential property market showing no signs of diminishing, it's safe to assume the upward pricing trend will continue.
Immigration numbers remain strong. Supply of new housing stock remains thin. Mortgage interest rates are forecast to remain at near-historic lows. Employment figures are steady. The only direct check we can see to the Auckland market conditions prevailing, and it's only on the volume perspective, is the onset of winter, which has always tended to dampen the supply of stock coming onto the market.
The questions everyone is asking, are: "How long can this last?" And "Is this a property bubble?"
The answers? First, the market phenomenon will last as long as immigration-fuelled demand for housing outstrips supply, and the Official Cash Rate remains below 3.5 per cent. Secondly, no, it's not a bubble. What the City of Sails is experiencing is simply a reflection of Auckland rapidly becoming an international city on the back of one of the biggest global migrations the planet has seen, as Chinese and Indian populations relocate themselves and their asset bases around the world.
NZ chief executive
Ray White Real Estate
The Reserve Bank has announced new LVR restrictions, particularly focused around Auckland property. While the Reserve Bank says the financial system is "sound and operating effectively", they have made comment about risks in regards to the Auckland median house price, the expectation of lower interest rates, and the potential record net immigration proposed for the year ahead.
The last quarter has seen record sales volume. This is more to do with the prices being achieved in the Auckland market, which has seen the median price in the last 12 months rise by 18 per cent, from $611,500 to $720,000.
The sales numbers year-to-date are slightly increased on the previous year's sales number. Most regions are beginning to show an uplift in prices, and there is starting to be an effect of some Auckland and Canterbury purchasers looking to reassess value and purchase in regional locations.
The LVR announcements by the Reserve Bank in a renewed format now focus on Auckland. Over the past 18 months the LVR restrictions have had little effect in Auckland but have had a considerable effect in the regional areas. It is seen that affordability, particularly for those who are renting, will continue to get better as interest rates drop. While the restrictions have less impact on owner/occupiers, the first home buyer market, if deposits can be secured, will become more active. The investment sector, while requiring a deposit of 30 per cent in the Auckland region, is also predicted to remain active.
LJ Hooker and Harveys Group
Immigration, lower interest rates and a shortage of property for sale create a buoyant and busy real estate market - which is set to continue.
The only way house prices will stop rising is if there is a significant increase in properties for sale or a decrease in demand, which won't happen.
Many Aucklanders will take advantage of record prices and sell their existing home then move to more affordable areas such as Hamilton, Whangarei, Tauranga, Matamata or Cambridge.
Capital gain will not be at the same level we have seen in the past 18 months. Across the city any properties that can be subdivided will be in demand as developers know they will have multiple buyers waiting for good product.
Some investors may also take the opportunity to sell property and build equity in their existing portfolio.
Rental housing will continue the upward trend with rents having to be increased to cover rates, insurance and maintenance.
The Auckland market will continue to be in favour of the vendors. Auction will stay as the preferred method of sale, simply because demand outstrips supply.
More and more families will join together, living in the same accommodation due to the cost of living.
March saw 8803 sales across the country, being the highest volume of sales for over a year. Moving forward, sales volumes, I believe, will be around 6000 to 7000 a month with Auckland as usual dominating the numbers.
Chief executive officer
The key feature of the residential property market is strong demand being fuelled by record migration and low interest rates.
Average sale prices in Auckland have consistently been 15 per cent higher than last year and we expect this trend to continue into winter off the back of unrelenting demand.
Harcourts had a record-breaking month in March with sales strong throughout the country and this has continued into April. Inventory levels in all parts of the country, except Christchurch, are around 15-20 per cent lower than they were at this time last year and the tightening in supply, coupled with increasing demand, should start to put upwards pressure on prices in Wellington, Waikato and the western Bay of Plenty.
The supply shortage in Christchurch since the Canterbury earthquakes has been alleviated with many new builds and earthquake repairs now complete. However, quality properties continue to attract a premium and that is keeping the average sale price above last year's level.
Buyer activity in the rest of the South Island in March and April was strong compared to last year, which should give vendors hope that they will start to see some capital gain soon. Changes to the Loan to Value ratio restrictions proposed by the Reserve Bank will help to buoy the property market outside Auckland when they come into effect in October.
Barfoot & Thompson
The Reserve Bank's latest attempt to rein in Auckland house prices has thrown the word "uncertainty" into the mix when it comes to forecasting market trends over winter.
Although the new restraints do not officially take effect until October, banks are still expected to "observe the spirit of the changes ... in the meantime".
It is the fine detail that will determine the extent to which the new rules will prove a handicap to investors, and the class of buyer being targeted.
Uncertainty in the short term is likely to lead to a significant number of sellers and buyers holding off decision-making, and it may be some months before trading establishes a predictable pattern.
Although the rate of price increase is likely to fall from its current level, and that was a possibility anyway as we head into winter, prices themselves will not retreat.
With the shortage of supply, strong demand will remain and the answer is to continue to build more homes.
In the medium term, the 30 per cent deposit requirement for investors is unlikely to see them exiting the market in large numbers. It will also see some transfer their attention to new builds, which are not affected by the new rules, or lower-priced properties such as those under $500,000.
Intervention invariably has unforeseen consequences, and only time will tell if first-time home buyers in Auckland will find it even harder to get into the property market.
Barry Thom and Grant Lynch
Unlimited Potential Real Estate
It is now generally accepted that with immigration numbers at an all-time high, interest rates trending downwards and a seasonal decrease of available homes for sale, we have the factors that are continuing to fuel firm house prices. While these elements continue to be in play it's difficult to see this changing.
Right now we are suffering the normal seasonal shrinkage of available homes for sale. Traditionally house owners want to have their home seen in the best light; consequently many believe that listing their home in winter is not a good idea. The reality is that the best price is achieved when demand is high and supply is limited. That is the case right now.
We also observe more homeowners doing refurbishment rather than selling, further heightening the competition for available homes.
There appears to be concern about selling and then being unable to find the next appropriate home. The solution is to buy before selling. Some people do not have the capacity to do this because the purchase will probably require an unconditional cash bid at an auction.
This is a market where the purchase first approach has appeal as it gives certainty; we would recommend the buyer look to negotiate an extended settlement period to facilitate a sale on their property without bridging finance.
We see little on the horizon that would dampen the current demand. Our major issue is finding solutions for the many buyers standing in the market.