Property market

PHOTO: Wellington, New Zealand FILE

News from Quotable Value New Zealand

Average home values have declined right across the greater Wellington region through the first three months of 2022. By far the biggest reduction in average home value has occurred in Hutt City, with the three-month rolling average sitting at -5.2% following four consecutive months of declines.

The average decline across the entire region is -1.5%, but values are still up by 13.7% over the past 12 months.

QV senior consultant Blake Ngarimu said the stats showed a continuing fall in the market.

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“It’s now more evident that Wellington is becoming a buyers’ market. Developers are reducing asking prices and properties are sitting on the market for longer and typically selling below or at asking price.It’s a clear indication that the higher interest rates and tougher lending conditions, coupled with the increase in supply, are having an impact on the market.”

Although the Government had given direction to soften lending rules on creditworthy borrowers in March, in wake of the dip in the market, Mr Ngarimu said it was unknown if it would help ease the current dip.

“Open home attendance remains low, particularly at the lower end of the market, which is more heavily finance driven. However, there has also been a significant increase in listings, giving buyers more options,” he added.

Palmerston North has recorded the largest decline of New Zealand’s main centres so far this year. It has tied for first place with Dunedin, with home values declining by an average of -3.2% over the first three months of 2022, which includes a -1.3% decline in average home value in the month of March alone.

Local QV property consultant Olivia Roberts commented: “The market is continuing in a correction cycle after a huge value surge at the beginning of 2021. Sales volumes are currently very low, and yet the number of listings continues to increase, adding more choice for buyers.”

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She said a “leveling in supply and demand” was currently underway. “The lower price brackets appear to be leading the way with a distinct increase in reductions, a trend that appears to be continuing to climb up to the higher price brackets.”

“A number of local real estate agents have reported that asking prices are being reduced,” Miss Roberts added.

Nationwide, the QV House Price Index has experienced its largest quarterly drop in more than a decade, with the main centres currently taking the brunt of the impact of rising interest rates and tightening bank credit.

The average home decreased in value by -0.6% nationally over the past three-month period to the end of March, down from the 2.3% rise in quarterly growth we saw in February, with the national average value now sitting at $1,046,636. This represents an average annual increase of 18.3%, down from 22.9% annual growth last month.

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In the Auckland region, the average value now sits at $1,503,922, falling -1.5% over the last three-month period, with annual growth of 18.6%, down from the 23.2% we reported in February.

QV General Manager David Nagel commented: “We’re seeing quite a rapid decline in the rate of annual growth – especially compared to the early months of 2021, when the market was peaking.Now we’re seeing much slower growth months and even some value contraction in early 2022. This is particularly prevalent in the main centres where some of the largest value increases over the past two years have occurred.

“Agents are reporting a bounce in sales volumes for March after a very slow start to the year, but levels are still well down on previous years, primarily due to the recent rise in interest rates and changes to credit lending rules. With the massive rise in listings over the past couple of months the balance of power has shifted firmly into the hands of buyers, after such a prolonged period of it being a sellers’ market,” he said.

14 of the 16 major urban areas QV monitors have shown a reduction in the rate of three-monthly value growth from the February data, with just Marlborough and Queenstown Lakes value levels holding firm with last month’s quarterly growth levels.

“Last month we saw just two major urban areas register a reduction in value levels over the three month period to February, but this month we’ve seen seven of the 16 areas showing a reduction in value levels. And if you look at just March in isolation, there are now 9 of the 16 urban areas showing a value decline, including the main centres of Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin,” said Mr Nagel.

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For the future, Mr Nagel said there remains a lot of international uncertainty with the Russia/Ukraine conflict looking like it’s set to continue for some time, business uncertainty on the pace of the economic recovery as we continue to deal with Covid-19, and how these will impact on inflation and interest rates. While recent immigration applications are encouraging, the majority of these are already in New Zealand, with new arrivals not expected until later in 2022. Meanwhile, there are real concerns at the number of New Zealanders likely to be leaving our shores, eroding housing demand further.

“We’ll likely see a continued gradual decline in value levels for some of the locations that experienced the greatest value growth between 200-2021, while the regions will likely continue to see a mix of stagnated growth over the coming 12 months,” Mr Nagel added.

Home values have dipped -1.5% across the Auckland region this quarter, following two straight months of negative growth. Papakura (-3.3%), North Shore (-2.3%) and Auckland city (-2.3%) saw the biggest quarterly declines, with Rodney standing alone as the only district in the Auckland region showing any significant home value growth at 1.4% over the last three months. The average home value in the wider Auckland region is now $1,503,922.

Local QV registered valuer Hugh Robson commented: “The Auckland market has continued to slow down over the past 4-5 weeks, with a number of suburbs now showing a slight drop in price level. This confirms the market has changed from what we experienced in 2020 and 2021. Bank interest rates continue to creep up and tighter government lending rules continue to have an impact on the market.”

“In recent years, many of the sales across Auckland were to developers who were buying their next building site for redevelopment, or investors who were land-banking. However, with this change in the market, along with a shortage of certain building materials, several developers have become tentative and decided to ‘sit tight’ and delay construction, to avoid being caught with a brand new development and a lack of buyers.”

Despite this, Mr Robson observed high prices being paid for premium properties in sought-after locations, such as waterfront properties in Herne Bay, Westmere, and St Mary’s Bay.

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Again, Northland has managed to elude the widespread home value drops that have been occurring elsewhere in Aotearoa-New Zealand, posting an average increase of 3.4% for the quarter. However, Whangarei’s average home value dropped by -0.9% in March. Otherwise, the city’s average home value remains 2.8% higher than it was three months ago – the exact same level of growth experienced in the Far North District.

Meanwhile, Kaipara home values continue to climb at a rapid rate, increasing by an average of 7.3% over the first three months of 2022.

Tauranga’s rate of home value growth has flat-lined over the last two months, increasing by just 0.2% in February and 0.8% in March.

However, the city’s three-month rolling average is still a relatively robust 3.1% – well above the national average of -0.6% – thanks largely to a very strong start to the year, with values increasing by an average of 2.1% in January alone.

QV property consultant Derek Turnwald said it was now officially a buyer’s market. “We’re seeing more properties coming on to market as owners, who have held off until now, realise that the market has finally reached its peak. But demand for housing of all values has also declined and is now generally subdued,” he said.

“There are high levels of uncertainty in costs and availability of consumer items, rising interest rates, the conflict in Ukraine, the COVID situation, and low levels of confidence in the residential property market. These factors are likely causing many prospective buyers to step back from the market and wait and see how the short term future unfolds.”

Mr Turnwald said the short-term outlook was that interest rates were likely to continue rising and banks would continue to follow stringent lending criteria. “Migration could become more of a significant factor in the housing market as borders begin to open,” he said.

“International borders are being opened and we can expect a significant number of expats to return, but it’s equally likely that many skilled workers will also migrate to Australia where wages are higher, houses are cheaper, and the cost of living is lower. Younger, skilled people who have not bought their first home are the most likely to be attracted offshore,” he added.

Residential property growth has been all-but-static across the wider Waikato region through the first three months of the year, with the three-month rolling average sitting at just 0.4%.

That’s a very significant drop from the 8.7% value growth we reported for the region through the last three months of last year.

Local QV registered valuer Tom Schicker commented: “Almost every district in the Waikato region recorded significantly less home value growth over the first three months of 2022 than the last three months of 2021, as agents continued to report lower demand in the market overall, which is also evident with the decrease in sales volumes.”

In Hamilton, home values have declined by -1.8% this quarter – including a -1.3% drop last month alone – with the city’s central suburbs showing the largest declines on average (-4.9%), followed by the South East (-3.4%) and North East (-2%).

“Despite our latest figures showing a small decrease in median home values for the three month period for Hamilton, many agents are suggesting there is still little to no evidence in the market of values decreasing or properties selling for less than they would have three months ago,” Mr Schicker added.

Outside of the big city, however, some Waikato districts have still been posting large residential home value gains over the first three months of 2022 – including Waitomo District (7.5%), Hauraki District (6.4%), and South Waikato District (5.9%).

Rotorua’s residential property values dropped by an average of -0.1% this quarter, with the average home value now sitting at $746,587.

QV property consultant Derek Turnwald commented: “There are generally very high levels of uncertainty among New Zealanders at the present time. Rising costs, rising interest rates, overseas conflict and the ongoing COVID situation have meant that confidence in the future economy and the housing market are low at present.”

“There is very subdued demand for lower-end properties typically in the first-home buyer’s price range. This is likely to be due to a lack of confidence in the market and tighter lending criteria of banks. Mid-tier properties in the $500-750,000 range are still experiencing reasonable demand, although subdued compared to late last year, and demand for higher valued properties is also subdued.”

“The number of listings has increased and listing periods are extending. It is definitely now a buyer’s market,” he added.

Taranaki’s residential property market has not shown the same reduction in home value that has become increasingly common in the main centres, with home values increasing by an average of 1.8% through the first three months of the year.

However, though that figure is significantly higher than the national average (-0.6%), it’s also a far cry from the 9.1% growth the QV House Price Index recorded through the last three months of 2021.

Much of the region’s home value growth this year has occurred in South Taranaki District (4.2%), with New Plymouth and Stratford District recording just 1.4% and 1.5% quarterly growth respectively.

Both Napier and Hastings posted small home value drops in March of -1.2% and -0.7% respectively, broadly keeping with trends that are occurring across the main centres.

Local QV registered valuer Damien Hall said the market had “plateaued” in most areas. “We’re seeing an increased number of listings across the board, but activity has completely slowed across the lower-to-mid end of the market, largely due to banks’ continued tight lending and increased interest rates.”

“The upper quartile is still showing some positives with cash buyers present, but overall prices have decreased slightly across the board,” he added.

Elsewhere in the region, Wairoa District posted a -4.1% decline in average home value over the first three months of the year, with Central Hawke’s Bay District more than making up for it with an average increase in home value of 6.2% for the quarter.

Although its rate of home value growth has slowed significantly, Nelson’s residential property market remains relatively bullish. At 2.4% growth over the first three months of 2022, Nelson’s rate of quarterly home value growth is well above the national average (-0.6%) but well below the city’s 7.2% rate of value growth recorded over the last three months of 2021.

QV Nelson/Marlborough manager Craig Russell said increasing numbers of listings had helped stabilise value levels throughout the region, with purchasers now having a much greater choice than they had previously.

“Open home numbers have been modest compared with the later part of 2021 and we have seen an increase in conditional contracts with a number of contracts now reliant on the purchaser selling their own property. Vendors need to ensure their properties are priced at a realistic level to ensure they’re successful selling,” he said.

“First-home buyers are struggling to enter the market due to tightening access to credit. Owner occupiers are dominating the market at present, but we expect to see investors play a greater role in the coming months as they potentially eye off bargains.”

Home values have dipped for the first time in Christchurch since May 2020 – back when the country had just emerged from a two-month nationwide lockdown.

They dropped by -0.2% last month, with the three-month rolling average sitting at 1.8%, which is still well above the national average (-0.6%). The average home value in the Garden City is now $797,518, which is 32.4% higher than it was 12 months ago.

Local QV property consultant Olivia Brownie commented: “Things have certainly cooled off, especially at the lower-value end of the market, with the city’s more expensive home values still showing more strength. The number of days to sell is increasing as more stock comes on to the market, therefore creating an environment where buyers can negotiate or take their time.”

Home values have increased by an average of 2.4% across the wider Canterbury region over the first three months of this year, with Selwyn District leading the way on 6.1%. All Canterbury districts are showing significantly less home value growth this quarter than over the last three months of 2021.

Dunedin has tied with Palmerston North for the largest quarterly decline in average home value over the first three months of this year.

The latest QV House Price Index recorded an average decline of -3.2% over the first three months of 2022, with the average home value in Dunedin now sitting at $702,803 – that is 9.2% higher than at 31 March 2021.

Registered valuer Rebecca Johnston said it was a far cry from the 5.3% rate of quarterly growth QV recorded over the last three months of 2021.

“The lower end of the market has certainly regressed this year, as also highlighted by the number of first-home buyers that we’re seeing drop off at open homes and the reduction in offers on properties in this sector,” she said.

“But what’s interesting is that the upper quartile of Dunedin’s residential property market is still maintaining its value, with well-presented properties even attracting a small amount of positive growth. This indicates that higher-value properties are not as impacted by the Credit Contract and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) and growing interest rates, the way that the first home buyers are.”

Queenstown has arrested a two-month slide with some positive home value growth in March. Its three-monthly rate of average home value growth now sits at a relatively robust 2.4% – well above the national average (-0.6%) and many other of Aotearoa-New Zealand’s main centres.

The average value of a residential property in the Queenstown-Lakes district is now $1,659,839, which is 21.2% higher than the same time 12 months ago.

At $498,473, the average home value in Invercargill is still agonisingly short of crossing the $500,000 mark. The average home value increased by 2.4% over the first three months of the year, which was less than half the city’s rate of growth during the last three months of last year (5.7%). Annually, values are 17.6% higher than they were last year.

The QV House Price Index continues to record very large residential property value increases occurring across provincial centres, with the eastern Bay of Plenty town of Opotiki (10.7%) recording the largest amount of value growth over the first three months of the year. It’s followed by Waitomo (7.5%) and Kaipara (7.3%) in second and third place respectively.

Two of the top three fastest-growing provincial centres throughout the first three months of 2022 were on the South Island, including Westland (11.2%) and Buller (10.4%). Waimate comes in third place on the Mainland with 6.9% average home value growth this quarter.

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