Auckland's median house price jumped to a record $955,000 in September, while national prices hit a new high of $685,000, according to latest data. A new poll reveals what Kiwis think should happen to prices.
Do house prices need to rise, fall or stay the same? That's the question Herald readers were asked and the results may at first seem surprising.
That's because just 6 per cent of Kiwis in the latest NZ Herald-Kantar Vote 2020 poll said house prices needed to rise.
By contrast, 52 per cent said prices needed to fall and 35 per cent said prices needed to stay about the same.
Undoubtedly, most people buy homes with the hope their property's value increases in time.
Yet - with house prices having boomed for the better part of two decades and now hitting a record high in September - perhaps those polled were thinking about sustainable growth or what was fair for future generations, Real Estate Institute chief executive Bindi Norwell said.
They might also be distinguishing between what they "wanted" and what they thought New Zealand "needed", she said.
"We don't need a place where first home buyers think that getting on the property ladder is unachievable," she said.
Her comments came as home ownership rates have plummeted to new lows at the same time that cheaper home loans were helping push house prices to new heights.
Auckland's median house price jumped to a record $955,000 in September, while national prices hit a new high of $685,000, yesterday's Real Estate Institute data showed.
Sales volumes also leapt, with more homes selling last month than in any other September in the last 14 years.
Property pundits had earlier tipped prices to this year take their first significant fall in a decade due to the Covid-19 pandemic plunging the world economy into recession.
Instead, Auckland's former record median house price - which had remained fixed at $900,000 for three years running - was finally broken in March, the same month the country went into Covid-19 lockdown.
Prices had since remained higher than $900,000 in every month that followed, Real Estate Institute data showed.
Unsurprisingly, younger Kiwis surveyed in the NZ Herald-Kantar poll were the most keen for prices to fall.
Seventy per cent of those aged between 18-29 years said house prices needed to fall.
Many other Kiwis - on the otherhand - thought prices should instead hold at current levels.
Overall, 35 per cent of those polled said prices needed to hold at current levels.
Among those earning incomes of $100,000 or above - who were also more likely to already be home owners - 45 per cent said prices needed to hold steady and 8 per cent said prices needed to rise.
Surprisingly, 37 per cent of the higher earners said prices needed to fall, despite any price falls presumably coming at a cost to the poll respondents' personal wealth.
Similarly, among those aged 60 or above, just 4 per cent said prices needed to rise, while 9 per cent of those aged 50-59 said prices needed to rise.
By contrast, 46 per cent of those surveyed in both these older age groups said prices needed to fall.
Owen Vaughan, editor of property website OneRoof, said it was understandable why 35 per cent of those surveyed - and about 40 per cent of those aged above 40 - thought house prices needed to hold at about current levels.
"The idea that house prices could fall would be worrying for those on the property ladder," he said.
"They won't want to see erosion in price of their biggest asset."
But trying to pinpoint why so many Kiwis of all age and income brackets thought prices needed to fall was harder to understand, he said.
Real Estate Institute's Norwell said perhaps Kiwis believed steady price growth was healthier than a booming market that was too fast-paced and could cause instability.
Or perhaps poll respondents, who already owned homes, were thinking of their sons and daughters and didn't want them to miss out on the opportunity to own homes in the future.
"Unaffordability in this country is going up. People are worried that house price growth is outpacing wage growth," Norwell said.
"That is not a long-term sustainable approach for the country because we want the younger generation to continue to invest in property."
In previous elections, housing was one of the main pillars of both major parties' election policy platforms.
This election, however, it had taken a backseat to the likes of Covid-19 and New Zealand's economic recovery.
But the issue had come up on the campaign trail – notably during the second leaders' debate.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and National's leader Judith Collins were both asked if they wanted house prices to rise or fall.
"I don't want them to keep escalating, it's not sustainable," Ardern said.
Collins appeared to broadly agree.
"In some cases they're going to have to go down, but you don't want to have people who have borrowed up to the hilt to buy a house suddenly having negative equity," she said.
The poll of 1000 people was taken from Wednesday, October 7 to Saturday, October 10. The margin of error is 3.1 per cent.