By big city standards $300,000 may not seem much for an average house, but in Whanganui that's massive and the recent jump in house prices is deeply disconcerting.

According to recent REINZ figures, New Zealand house prices have hit a record annual high. And the biggest increases were in the regions with Whanganui/Manawatū seeing the second highest annual rise at 20.9 per cent.

Property valuer Robert Spooner says it's just that Whanganui is slow to react, and the price hike isn't out of step with anywhere else.

"If you actually have a look at the stats, what's caught people unaware is the recent rise and say even the last 12 months," Spooner said. "But if you look at it in context of what's happening at around the country, we've only moved as much as anyone else has over the last seven years."


"While the national market's moved 73 per cent, we've moved 75 per cent, so we're not out of step," he said. "It just appears that way to those looking at it from a specific point."

The Government valuation (GV) used by councils to determine rates can be confusing for buyers and sellers because it often differs from an independent valuation, which is far more comprehensive.

"The GV is basically a computer generated mass appraisal system. It's done every three years and what they do is look at overall movement on the market in particular suburbs, and then if they find a rise of say 20 per cent since the last review date, just use that measure to plus it up 20 per cent. So it gets less relevant with what's actually happening in the market."

Real estate agent Rob Bennett says the techniques being used to sell houses have changed. A couple of years ago it was a buyers' market, but now it's definitely a sellers' market.

"There are a lot of buyer inquiry overs - basically the marketing companies are giving the purchasers a price range where they see it, and it's up to the purchasers to decide where they see it in that range, it's usually about a $50,000 range.

"When we had a lot of stock, we were generally just putting a price on the house and you may even have seen someone trying to come in at $20,000 less than the asking price - but that's not happening at all."

Despite buyers having the upper hand, there are some things which haven't changed when it comes to selling a house.

"The most sought after in today's market and pretty much all price points is a home that's done up - new carpet, new paint, LED downlights, new kitchen, new bathroom," Bennett said. "If you've got that or something that resembles that, buyers will be falling over themselves to buy it."


Bennett's theory on buyer's reluctance to purchase a "doer-upper" stems from lots of buyers coming from other cities further north, like Tauranga.

"They've just sold a house, probably made a fortune on it, but they've probably just gone through a whole renovation. And, my experience with people that have just done a renovation is they want to have a few years off before they start again!"

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