PHOTO: Jen Baird, Chief Executive at REINZ
REINZ July data: Market activity and prices continue to ease, first home buyers start to return to the market
New Zealand’s winter property market continues its recent trend, slowing from the pace of sales and price rises of last year — properties stay on the market longer and median prices dip, according to the latest data and insights from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ), home of the most complete, accurate and up-to-date real estate data in New Zealand.
Across New Zealand, median prices for residential property decreased 1.8% annually, from $825,000 in July 2021 to $810,000 in July 2022. Month-on-month, this represents a 4.7% decrease from $850,000 in June.
The median residential property price for New Zealand excluding Auckland increased 4.5% annually from $688,999 in July 2021 to $720,000 in July 2022. There was a month-on-month decrease of 2.7% from $740,000.
The median price in Auckland was down 5.6% compared to July last year from $1,165,000 to $1,100,000 in July 2022. Auckland also recorded a month-on-month decrease of 4.3% — down from $1,150,000 in June.
Auckland was one of five regions to see an annual decrease in the median price. In Wellington, the median price was down 5.9% annually, from $860,000 to $809,100 in July 2022. Tasman was down 4.6% annually, from 839,000 to $800,000, Otago was down 3.7% from $670,000 to $645,000 and Manawatu/Whanganui was down 0.2% from $586,000 to $585,000.
That said, some regions are still seeing double digit annual median price growth. The median price in Nelson was up 16.3% on July 2021, from $688,000 to $800,000, Taranaki saw the annual median price increase 15.9% on the same period last year, from $535,000 to $620,000, West Coast was up 14.7% from $296,500 to $340,000 and Canterbury saw an annual increase of 13.6%, from $597,000 to $678,000.
Two territorial authorities (TAs) achieved record medians. These were the Hurunui District in Canterbury and the Grey District in the West Coast. More information on activity by region and TA record median prices can be found in the regional commentaries in the REINZ Monthly Property Report.
Jen Baird, Chief Executive at REINZ, comments: “The median property price across New Zealand decreased 1.8% to $810,000. This is the first decrease in annual median price movement for New Zealand overall since July 2011. Moving from June to July, we note a 4.7% decrease, and the seasonally adjusted figures show a decrease of 2.8%, indicating weaker performance than expected.
“We saw a significant upswing in prices since the initial COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020, reaching a peak in November 2021. While the median property price is showing an annual decrease, affordability remains an obstacle for many — which is now being driven by rising interest rates, inflation and tighter lending criteria.
“In more affordable regions, we have continued to see significant growth compared to larger markets such as Auckland and Wellington. Buyer demand remains intact in Canterbury, and specifically Christchurch, reflected in the region’s strong performance over the past months.
“On the other hand, the Wellington market hasn’t fared so well. According to local agents, the number of attendees at open homes has fallen, days on the market have increased to 61 days in July 2022, and sales activity has eased. Stock is staying on the market for longer and the properties selling are those where vendors have met the market.
“Real estate markets are cyclical, after a period of strong upward movement, it is slowing. However, prices tend to decrease more slowly than they increase and after a period of stability, the market tends to regain momentum and median prices start their climb. We are in the easing part of the market cycle,” Baird says.
Sales activity down compared to July 2021
Across New Zealand, the number of residential property sales decreased annually by 36.7%, from 7,391 in July 2021 to 4,678 in July 2022. Month on month, there was a decrease of 4.0%. Moving from June to July, the seasonally adjusted figures show a decrease of 3.5% — showing a weaker than expected July month.
The sales count for New Zealand excluding Auckland decreased 29.5% annually from 4,624 to 3,259. There was a 2.2% increase compared to June 2022.
All regions saw an annual decrease in the number of sales. However, several regions saw a month-on-month increase.
Those with the greatest annual percentage decrease were:
- West Coast, which decreased 54.9% annually from 51 to 23
- Auckland, which decreased 48.7% annually from 2,767 to 1,419
- Northland, which decreased 44.0% annually from 243 to 136
- Waikato, which decreased 43.5% annually from 742 to 419.
Gisborne saw the greatest month-on-month increase, up 57.7% on June, followed by Hawke’s Bay which increased 39.4%.
“Sales activity continued to slow through July — with sales across New Zealand down 36.7% compared to July last year. While overall the data shows a 4.0% decrease in sales activity across New Zealand as we move from June to July, we note variation when we look at sales counts by region.
Overall, sales counts have been declining since July 2021.
“A combination of increasing interest rates, inflation, supply-chain-affected cost structures are contributing to current market dynamics, as people show caution, which slows demand. At the same time, the number of properties available for sale has increased significantly compared to 2021 — up 107.8% annually.
“The increased volume of stock on the market is not the result of distressed vendors — New Zealand’s high employment rate and banks’ lending conservatism continues to support the ability for homeowners to handle the impact of rising interest rates. Rather it is because buyers have stepped back; some deterred by successive initiatives to dampen investor appetite, others hampered by changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Financing Act (CCCFA) and reintroduction of LVRs,” Baird comments.
“Prices have come down from their November 2021 peak, and in July we saw the annual median price decrease nationally — indicating many vendors are adjusting expectations to meet the market. Agents across the country report they are starting to see demand return from first home buyers in the market and some are seeing renewed interest from investors,” she adds.
Nationally, value of residential property shows annual decrease
The REINZ House Price Index (HPI) for New Zealand, which measures the changing value of residential property nationwide, showed an annual decrease of 2.9% from 3,928 in July 2021 to 3,814 — down 10.8% from its peak in November 2021.
For New Zealand excluding Auckland, the HPI increased 0.1% annually — from 3,965 in July 2021 to 3,969 in July 2022.
Four of the 12 regions had a negative HPI movement — these were the same regions as last month. Auckland saw an annual decrease on the house price index of 7.1% — from 3,881 to 3,604.
Wellington was down 12.7% on the index compared to July last year — from 4,159 to 3,631, the largest annual drop in the region’s HPI since records began in 1992. Wellington has now ranked bottom two of all regions on the HPI for nine consecutive months. Manawatu/Whanganui had the second-lowest result, down 3.6% compared to July 2021 — from 5,046 to 4,863, and Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay was down 1.7% on the HPI — from 4,319 to 4,245.
Northland and Canterbury ranked top two on the HPI for annual value movements. Northland topped the index, up 10.4% compared to last year. Canterbury recorded an annual increase of 8.8% — second on the index after ranking first for eight consecutive months.
All regions have had decreases in HPI movements over the past three months, with a national decrease of 4.9% for the three months ended 31 July.
Median days to sell over 40 for all but two regions
Across New Zealand, the median number of days to sell (DTS) a property in July was 47 — up 16 compared to July 2021. For New Zealand excluding Auckland, it increased 17 days to 47. These figures indicate the slower pace of the market nationally. The urgency seen in the market from mid to late-2021 has fallen off, the combination of increased stock taking the pressure off and buyers waiting to see if prices will decrease further.
With a median DTS of 33, Southland had the lowest median DTS of all regions and saw an annual decrease of one day compared to July 2021. Canterbury had a median DTS of 35 — up seven days compared to the same time last year.
At 72, West Coast had the highest median DTS of all regions — its highest since August 2020. Followed by Wellington at 61, the region’s highest median DTS since February 2009.
“The median days to sell has increased significantly, pointing to a much-slowed market pace. At 47, this was the highest days to sell nationally since February 2019 — excluding April and May 2020 which were impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns.
“In part, this may be down to decreased urgency and increased uncertainty in the market. However, we have also seen a shift in the sales process, with more sales subject to conditions — often subject to finance or sale of another property — and an increase in the number of contracts where conditions are unable to be met and the sale not completed. Additionally, we are hearing of more negotiation between buyers and sellers.”
Inventory levels continue to trend upwards, listings down
Nationally, the total number of properties available for sale increased 107.8% annually, from 12,684 in July 2021 to 26,358. For New Zealand excluding Auckland, inventory increased 128.8%, from 6,875 to 15,732.
All regions saw inventory levels increase annually by 50% or more compared to the same period last year.
Nine regions had over twice the inventory they recorded in July last year. For eight consecutive months, Wellington and Manawatu/Whanganui have had over twice the inventory recorded in the same month the year prior — up 171.7% and 144.9%, respectively, in July 2022 compared to July 2021. Hawke’s Bay had the largest increase in inventory, up 192.1%, Nelson was up 187.3%, Bay of Plenty was up 170.0%, Waikato saw inventory rise by 164.1%, Gisborne by 131.7%, Taranaki by 117.7% and Northland by 117.0% compared to July 2021.
Listings were down 4.4% across New Zealand in July, while New Zealand excluding Auckland saw an increase of 2.6% compared to July 2021. Hawke’s Bay saw the greatest annual increase in listings — up 26.7%. Seven regions saw new listings decrease in July, the most significant decrease was Marlborough — down 21.0%.
“That supply outweighs demand is evident in the continued increase of stock on the market — up 107.8% nationally compared to July 2021. Properties are staying on the market for longer, the median days to sell in New Zealand has reached 47. Listings decreased year-on-year— down 4.4%. People are hitting pause, vendors who are not motivated to sell are not listing their property — perhaps waiting for spring activity.
“In 2021, we saw low housing stock, increasing competition between buyers and a general sense of urgency. The reverse is now happening. Nine regions had over twice the number of properties for sale as they did this time last year, which has moderated the market and bought buyers time. Buyers have more choice, and more time to consider their options, undertake their due diligence and find the right property for them.
“Agents across the regions report vendors are adapting their sales strategy to hit the right chord in the market right now. While the sales process is taking longer, with the right marketing and local knowledge, there are serious buyers ready to make an offer. While the market has been dominated by owner occupiers, reports suggest first home buyers (and in some areas investors too) are beginning to re-emerge — increasing the buyer pool again.”
Inventory and listings data come from realestate.co.nz.
All’s quiet on the auction front
Across New Zealand, 458 properties sold by auction in July 2022 representing 9.8% of overall sales compared to 26.1% in July 2021. This is the lowest percentage of sales by auction since May 2020 — excluding months impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns, this is the lowest since January 2020.
For New Zealand excluding Auckland, 6.6% (215) of properties were sold by auction in July 2022 compared to 17.9% in July 2021.
The Auckland and Gisborne regions saw 17.1% of properties sell by auction — the highest percentage of sales by auction of all regions. Followed by Canterbury, where 16.3% of properties sold by auction.
At 6.3%, Nelson recorded its highest percentage of sales by auction since November 2021. On the other end of the spectrum, at 4.9% Bay of Plenty had its lowest percentage representation of sales by auction since April 2020 — or January 2010 excluding months impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Northland had its lowest percentage of sales by auction since January 2021 and Waikato since June 2020.
“While the percentage of sales by auction has decreased over the past months, they remain an effective marketing method. Auctions are unconditional, which means contracts are exchanged on the fall of the hammer making for a quicker, more certain sale.
“In the current market, inflation, interest rates and access to finance are seeing buyers show caution and the pool of buyers able to buy unconditionally has decreased. We are seeing more contracts subject to sale or subject to finance, and buyers are increasingly confident entering negotiations. This shift has seen the number of vendors opting to go to auction and the number of buyers attending auctions decline,” concludes Baird.
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