Whanganui remains one of the most affordable property markets in New Zealand, with agents struggling to find enough properties for potential buyers as demand soars.
The latest OneRoof Property Report released today shows the Whanganui/Manawatū region with some of the most affordable property in the country, with the region staking claim to the third lowest median house price across New Zealand.
The report shows the Manawatū/Whanganui region with a median house price of $445,000, a 19 per cent or $70,000 rise in the last 12 months alone. Since 2015, house prices in the region have increased by an average of $215,000.
The new report also puts a spotlight on the market post-Covid. In the 12 months prior to Covid-19 lockdown, house prices grew 19.9 per cent in Whanganui/Manawatū. Since the beginning of lockdown on March 25, the increase has slowed to just 4.5 per cent.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said despite the slowed growth, Whanganui is an anomaly compared to the rest of New Zealand.
"When we went into the lockdown, my initial expectation was that places like Whanganui would find themselves under a bit of pressure and that there'd be more of a drop than other places in the market, mainly because of the fact a lot of the buying activity was investor driven," Vaughan said.
"That's just not proven to be the case.
"A lot of the stock that's being bought in the Whanganui/Manawatū region is primarily first home buyers, and that's because of the affordability and the cheap price of credit with interest rates that have never been so low."
That is a view shared by real estate agent Ritesh Verma, branch manager of Property Brokers Whanganui, who said that while he expected property prices to slow down, it's gone the other way.
"The team simply can't get enough houses to sell."
The new property figures come off the back of new Whanganui population statistics, showing the city's population has grown 1.6 per cent, topping 48,000. Verma is of the view that the population will continue to increase, in turn having an effect on the housing market.
"I believe we will have a lot of people wanting to live in New Zealand, meaning our population will increase again, driving prices up," Verma said.
John Bartley, of Bayleys Whanganui and Ruapehu, said the Whanganui region continues to experience record residential sale prices and increased buyer inquiry, with the trend also seeing an increase in the number of home owners getting appraisals to find out the value of their biggest asset.
"I think our region is experiencing a boom and has been playing catch-up for a number of years, but we still have a way to go.
"As we head into what is traditionally a busy time for buying and selling we expect to see continued growth in prices and the number of sales as conditions are favourable with continued low interest rates."
First home buyers should act quickly or risk being priced out of the market, Bartley said.
According to the report, the most expensive houses in Whanganui are around the Whanganui Airport and Brunswick areas. The median house price for a property near Whanganui Airport is $725,000, while in Brunswick the median figure sits around $715,000.
The suburb in Whanganui with the most affordable housing is Castlecliff, with a median house price of $285,000, making it some of the cheapest coastal property in New Zealand. Vaughan said that anywhere with house prices under $300,000 is impressive, but even more so when it's on the coast.
"Anywhere that is under $300,000 at the moment definitely qualifies as a very affordable location. I think getting any coastal property for under $300,000 these days is something that will raise eyebrows."
The only suburb in Whanganui that has grown more than 6 per cent post-Covid is St John's Hill, amassing a whopping 16.9 per cent of growth since March 25.
Within the limits of the Whanganui District itself, property values have increased 25 per cent in the last year. Rangitīkei outstrips that, with prices increasing 29 per cent in the last 12 months.
In the Ruapehu District, that figure sits at just 10 per cent, with much lower volumes of property being listed on the market.
Nationwide, Auckland remains the most expensive property market in the country, with a median value of $965,000, closely followed by Wellington sitting at $745,000. The cheapest property on the New Zealand market can be found on the West Coast, with a median value of $245,000.