Independent property information company CoreLogic recently compiled and analysed extensive data which backs up some real estate commentary but at the same time dispels a few commonly held assumptions.

Yes, migration may have peaked but it will continue to be strong for some time. Departures have dropped off, particularly to Australia but arrivals from China, India and the UK continue to fuel the net migration gains.

Nationwide building consents have been trending down over the past decade. Apart from rocketing consent growth in Canterbury since 2011, the rest of New Zealand, including Auckland, has been weak with annual consents still fewer than 2 per cent of the total housing stock.

Many were quick to promote the sales figures for March as being record breaking and compared to any month since 2007 they were. However overall monthly sales figures are well behind the monthly sale volumes we saw in the mid-2000s. As a percentage of the housing stock, turnover is lower than any time pre the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).


The most interesting image CoreLogic NZ promotes are two maps of Auckland showing in red the properties worth less than $400,000 in 2005 compared to 2014. In 2005, Auckland is a sea of red while in 2014 just a smattering - and mostly in the southwest.

So while it's near impossible to find a property for less than $400,000, when it comes to the percentage of all sales it is the lower end of the market that is strong.

With Auckland's annual price growth at 13.9 per cent, it is no surprise Auckland is increasingly dominant in lifting the country's overall growth rate up to 7.7 per cent.

When it comes to property values, the main centres outside Auckland have mostly only experienced modest growth in valuations since the GFC, with even Christchurch levelling out.

The assumption by many is the market is full of first-time home buyers vying to buy a house while interest rates are relatively low. CoreLogic's figures show the biggest buyers remain investors at around 40 per cent, followed by movers. First-time home buyers make up less than 20 per cent. Another trend is fewer Kiwis are up-sizing and a growing slice of the pie are people new to an area.

In Auckland, some suburbs saw significant increases in values in the past year including Manurewa, Papatoetoe, Mt Wellington and Henderson. First-home buyers are nearly absent from Auckland's central isthmus suburbs, where investors are increasingly dominant.

But just when you think Auckland is expensive CoreLogic reminds us that Sydney has far more million-dollar and multi-million dollar suburbs.

The good news is unlike Sydney there remain plenty of opportunities in Auckland to buy a house for less than $1 million within 10km of the central city and definitely within 20km. However if, or when, we return to the giddy sales volumes and open home queues of 12 years ago those sub $1 million opportunities will rapidly dwindle.


• Geoff Barnett is the National Manager of Century 21 New Zealand.