Auckland's property market has bounced back from the slump, with almost half the city's suburbs showing meaningful house price growth, new figures show.
Figures from property listing site OneRoof and its data partner Valocity show that while the country's biggest housing market is still trailing the rest of New Zealand for growth, house prices are starting to move back to levels last seen during the boom.
Among the biggest winners were a clutch of suburbs on the fringes of Double Grammar Zone.
"Property values in Royal Oak, Greenlane, Three Kings and Kingsland, grew between 5 and 8 per cent year on year to end of December 2019," OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said.
"The popularity of these suburbs had waned at times during the last 24 months but they rallied towards the end of 2019 as buyers capitalising on low interest rates sought out homes close to the CBD that did not carry the Grammar Zone premium, with properties there typically transacting between $1.2 million and $1.5m."
The biggest winner overall for Auckland was Omaha. It was the only Auckland suburb to see double-digit growth, with the median property value there rising 11.8 per cent year on year to $1.64m.
Vaughan says that Omaha was Auckland's standout suburb, with growth there driven by buyer demand outstripping supply. "Omaha is the place where cashed up Aucklanders want to buy - it's a holiday home suburb that's an easy commute from the city and property there is tightly held. When it does come on to the market, it commands a premium.
"The same drivers apply to Hobsonville, which saw property prices grow more than 5 per cent year on year, with the median value for the new-build suburb sitting just under $1.1m. Demand is outstripping supply."
Kumeu in Auckland's west, and just one suburb over from Hobsonville, saw the biggest drop year-on-year, with the median value there falling 10.7 per cent to $915,000.
"The flurry of new developments in what was once a predominantly high-price lifestyle property market has had an impact on property values."
The full extent of last year's slump can be seen in the city's central beach suburbs.
Kohimarama's median value fell 6.2 per cent, from $1.685m to $1.58m, Glendowie dropped 7.8 per cent (from $1.675m to $1.5m), St Heliers was down by 9.4 per cent (from $1.75m to $1.585m) and Mission bay fell 7.3 per cent, down from $1.84m to $1.7m.
"Although St Heliers saw some the country's biggest house sales last year, the market there was bruised as buyers baulked at paying top prices and vendors hesitated to bring properties to market," Vaughan says.
However, the rough year in real estate last year has started to turn around, with agents reporting renewed confidence in the market.
Teresa Weiss, branch manager for Barfoot & Thompson Mission Bay, says last year was a bit shocking in the market over $1.5m but a number of factors were at play.
"I think the first quarter was probably the roughest and that was because we brought a lot of particularly high end property to the market that the buyers weren't out there buying and those that were the banks weren't assisting us in getting things across the line to the same degree," she said.
The foreign buyers ban from 2018 had an impact and banks tightening criteria made things tough. "We were putting through a lot of conditional sales that weren't becoming unconditional. Banks had tightened criteria so people that were normally buying at that $1.5m-plus or who had the equity and thought it wouldn't be a problem to buy something were getting declined," she says.
But by September the $1.5m and over market had begun to return and the year finished on a high with a good outlook. "What changed? The banks changed, from what we can see. I think people had adjusted to the market."
Weiss has no doubt good results from late last year will continue this year with a number of properties due to hit the market after Waitangi Day on February 6.
Auckland real estate auctioneers say the housing market is already off to a strong start for 2020.
Campbell Dunoon, auction manager for Barfoot & Thompson, says this time last year there were 118 auctions booked for the next few weeks but this year there are 187.
"It's been a good start. I think there were people holding back late last year and now the decision has been made, so that's good - I think we'll be having quite a busy February," he says.
Dunoon predicts it could be standing room only in the auction room as the number of buyers outweigh the number of properties. Last year ended with a real improvement in sales which bodes well for this year, he said.
"We had a good solid pool of buyers and we didn't have as many houses as we would have liked to have offered and that resulted in some pretty nice price gains for our vendors.
"Generally speaking, we're quite optimistic in the auction department, we're seeing some good numbers at our auctions."
Aaron Davis, Harcourt's national auctions manager, said agents have seen strong interest through open homes and a number of auctions have already been pulled forward which is a good indicator of activity and strength in the marketplace.
"We've seen a flurry straight after Christmas. We quite often see that but again it's a good indicator the market's got some strength in it."
He expected auction rooms to be full with good activity and good bidding, as does Sam Steele, the national auctioneer for Bayleys who also says the numbers are significantly up on the same time last year.
The year finished on a positive note and it's looking like that will continue throughout the year, he said.
"Traditionally in January we see a lot of places that go to auction that are mainly in holiday destinations, whether that's in Coromandel or up north or Waiheke and places like that.
"As we hit next week, as we get into February, that's when the majority of stock does come to the market, because people have made a decision while they've been away, or they've made a decision before Christmas time 'we want to buy something, we want to get into school zones'.
"It's usually the time of year that people do make decisions, that they do like to move on."