House Prices Keep Rising, Despite Increasing Headwinds
The property market continues to rise, even as lockdown levels continue to restrict the entire country to some degree.
The average value increased 3.6% nationally over the past three-month period to the end of September, up slightly from the 3.3% quarterly growth we saw in August, with the national average value now sitting at $977,456. This represents an increase of 26.3% year-on-year, down a fraction from 26.6% last month.
In the Auckland region, the average value now sits at $1,391,598, climbing 3.3% over the last three-month period, with annual growth of 23.9% dropping slightly from August’s year-on-year growth of 24%.
QV general manager David Nagel said: “We’ve seen mixed results around the 16 main urban areas we monitor with seven centres continuing the recent trend of a gradual slowdown in the rate of growth. However, nine urban areas have bucked this trend showing a rebound with increasing rate of growth compared to last month.”
“Ongoing lockdowns are continuing to impact the number of fresh listings, particularly in Auckland and this has possibly contributed to another strong month of value growth, with buyers continuing to vie for limited stock. We’re hearing anecdotal evidence from agents that appraisal enquiries are on the rise in many locations – a great signal that spring might finally provide the listings we’d normally expect,” he said.
“A flood of new listings will provide some welcome relief for house hunters. With the recent OCR announcement and flow-on increases in mortgage rates, combined with tightening credit limits and interest deductibility changes kicking in from October, we could see a gradual swing in the power balance between buyers and sellers over the coming months. But it’s difficult to foresee anything more than a gradual slowing in the rate of value growth in the foreseeable future,” he added.
The strongest value gains for the main cities over the past three months have come from Queenstown Lakes District at 9.4% growth in value, well up from 2.9% value growth last month, followed by Christchurch at 7.7% growth, building further on the strong three-monthly rate of growth of 5.8% we reported last month.
None of the major urban areas QV monitors have seen a decline in average value, but Rotorua continues to slow at 0.8% compared to its rolling three-monthly growth rate of 1.9% last month.
Central New Zealand continues to show the strongest annual rate of value growth, with three of the four fastest growing regions all in the lower North Island. Values in the Manawatu-Whanganui region have grown 35% in the past year, while the Hawke’s Bay and greater Wellington regions have experienced annual growth of 33.2% and 32.3% respectively.
West Coast has the strongest annual rate of growth in the South Island at 32%. The three lowest annual growth rates are all in the South Island, with the Southland region experiencing a still-significant 20.3% increase, with the Tasman region showing 22.3% and Otago at 23.3% annual growth.
Lockdown hasn’t stopped house prices in the Auckland region from climbing 1.7% in September to a new average price tag of $1,391,598.
Prices have risen 3.3% this quarter up from the 2.4% rolling three-month average we reported last month, but significantly down on previous highs this year with Franklin registering the most growth by far (7.6%), followed by Waitakere (4.1%), Rodney (3.9%) and Papakura (3.7%).
Local QV registered valuer Hugh Robson said prices remained stubbornly high throughout Auckland, despite the challenging set of circumstances the region currently found itself in, with the average price of a home in Papakura ($977,958) and Franklin ($936,436) continuing to close in on the $1m mark.
“House prices continue to climb upward in the Auckland region though at a much reduced rate compared to earlier this year, and it’s likely to continue to slow further as new loan-to-value bank restrictions are introduced, reducing the number of buyers in the market.”
He said Auckland’s recent Covid alert level 4 lockdown and its current level 3 restrictions had seen a significant reduction in the number of listings across Auckland. “This situation should improve as Auckland eventually moves down alert levels and the spring season brings improved weather, offering more choice to home buyers and investors.”
Meanwhile, he said development land sales continued to be a feature of the Auckland market. “Large sites of 700m² to 1500m² are very sought after by both developers and land bankers. Well presented and renovated homes are selling well, as are properties located close to transport routes and town centres.”
“In West Auckland, Te Atatu Peninsula is currently a very popular location for both home buyers and developers. The suburb is seeing a substantial amount of redevelopment take place. Many bungalows from the 1950s and 1960s are being removed from large sites and replaced with terraced townhouses and apartments.
“In central Auckland, Westmere has seen some high prices paid for character homes that have been completely refurbished.”
House prices continue to rise across the Northland region, with QV’s latest figures showing a three-month average growth rate of 3.3%.
The Far North has seen the biggest increase since the end of June at 4.5%, down from the 7.7% we reported last month. Whangarei was not far behind on 3% up 1% from last month’s rolling three-month average with Kaipara posting an increase of just 1.6% in three months.
Annually, the average price of a home has increased by 26.9% in Whangarei to $762,213. In the Far North, that figure is $675,691, which is 26.7% higher than the same time last year. The average price of a home in the Kaipara district is $795,428 up 25.3% since the same time last year.
House price growth continues to ease back in Tauranga, slowly but surely.
The city’s rolling three-monthly rate of house price growth has edged down from a January peak of 10.5% to just 4.5% in September. There have been growth spurts along the way including another 10.2% spike in May but price rises have been trending down for four consecutive months now.
However, house prices in Tauranga still increased by 1.5% last month and remain 32.6% higher than they were 12 months ago, making it “one of the New Zealand’s leading New Zealand cities for house price inflation”, according to QV property consultant Derek Turnwald.
“After Auckland, Tauranga is now probably the least affordable city in New Zealand for housing. It’s become extremely difficult for first-home buyers to get on the ladder here,” he said.
“The main feature of the current market is a lack of listed properties although this has improved from last month when lockdown impacted upon the market. Suppliers of home renovation supplies report very strong demand for supplies at the present time. It would seem that much of the money saved during lockdown and deferred from not being able to travel overseas is being put into home renovations and redecoration.”
Residential property prices increased by an average of 1.2% across the Waikato region in September.
The region’s rolling three-monthly average growth rate dropped slightly from 6% in August to 5.1% in September, with the districts of Waikato (7.1%), Taupo (6%), and Waipa (6%) making the greatest gains this quarter.
In Hamilton, property prices have increased by 5.1% over the last three months to reach a new average value of $862,125. The biggest increase over that time was in the city’s northeast (8.1%), which surpassed a $1m average price tag for the first time in September. The smallest increase was in central Hamilton and the southwest, where values grew by just 0.8% and 2.4% respectively.
Local QV property consultant Tom Schicker commented: “Over the last three months the median house price in nearly all Waikato districts has continued to perform strongly with the exception of the southern districts of Waitomo, South Waikato, and Otorohanga, which all saw small decreases.
“Small towns in close proximity to Hamilton city continue to perform well and see high demand, including Morrinsville, Te Awamutu, Cambridge and Ngaruawahia, with developers seeing these places as hotspots for development also.”
“Local agents continue to report a shortage of quality listings across the Waikato with a good level of interest in the properties that are on the market, especially ones with any development potential, or that appeal to first-home buyers,” Mr Schicker added.
Is all the steam coming out of Rotorua’s residential property market?
House prices in Sulphur City have increased by an average of just 0.8% over the past three months, down from last month’s rolling three-month average of 1.9%, and a significant drop from its peak growth rate of 7.6% back in June.
“House prices are increasing at a decreasing rate month-on-month,” local property consultant Derek Turnwald said. “Although sales remain strong across Rotorua as a whole, much fewer people are attending auctions and open homes, and we’re seeing more properties being passed in at auctions now.”
Mr Turnwald said investor activity had also dropped off in recent months in response to LVR changes, the extension of the brightline test, and tax deductibility law changes. “There hasn’t been a noticeable increase in investors selling properties yet. Some may choose to wait a couple of years to dodge being taxed under the new extended brightline period,” he added.
House prices remain stubbornly hot in New Plymouth, where they have increased by an average of 4.8% in the three months to the end of September.
South Taranaki District has experienced a similarly rapid rate of growth with house prices rising by an average of 4.4% in three months. That figure is slightly down on last month’s three-monthly figure of 5.9%.
Over the 12 months to the end of September, house prices have increased by 32.5% in South Taranaki, 29.6% in Stratford, and 27.9% in New Plymouth.
House prices continue to climb ever higher in the Hawke’s Bay region, where the twin cities of Napier and Hastings have experienced growth of 31.6% and 36.3% over the last 12 months respectively.
On a shorter timescale, Napier house prices have increased by 5.2% over the past three months to reach a new average price tag of $856,260, while house prices in neighbouring Hastings have increased by 4.3% over the same period to reach an average of $853,554.
QV valuer Damian Hall commented: “Buyers have become much more cautious in anticipation of rising interest rates and also as a result of the recent lockdown, with activity stalling slightly as a result.
“There is also the concern of the increase in the cost of building materials with panic buying evident. The lack of stock and stall in the production and importation of certain materials is putting further pressure on the building and construction sector.”
Despite all this, Mr Hall said the region continued to grapple with high demand and a lack of listings. “The Hawke’s Bay market remains positive despite recent market implications and government interventions. We suspect it will remain steady leading into Christmas though a local outbreak of Delta could potentially have major ramifications,” he added.
QV house price figures show Palmerston North has experienced slowly-but-steadily decreasing house price rises since April.
Over five consecutive months, the city’s rolling three-monthly rate of house price growth has gradually eased from a 2021 peak of 10.9% in April to 4.3% in September, still comfortably above the national average of 3.6%. The average price tag of a home here is now $748,579 a remarkable 35.2% higher than at the same time last year.
QV property consultant Olivia Roberts said the recent outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19 had caused significant uncertainty in the economy at large, but they had yet to see any direct impact on the local property market.
“We continue to see growth in property prices around the Manawatu area, but the rate of growth has slowed in recent months,” she said. “Real estate agents are reporting good levels of demand in the market with a lack of supply continuing to drive prices upward.”
Residential house prices increased by 1.5% across the greater Wellington region in September, an increase of 0.8% since August’s QV House Price Index..
Only two districts performed better than average in September the Kapiti Coast, where house prices increased by an average of 2.7%, and Hutt City, which crossed the $1m average house price threshold for the first time with a monthly rate of growth of 1.8%.
Hutt City is also the district with the biggest annual house price increase at 36.5%, which QV senior consultant David Cornford said can be attributed to Lower Hutt’s lower price point, with buyers continuing to be priced out of the central Wellington market.
“Values continued to increase in the Wellington region over September, with the Delta lockdown having little impact on the market,” he said. “While still trending upwards, value growth is slowing generally and anecdotally we have had reports of fewer offers being received and more conditional offers being made.
“But there remains a very healthy level of demand in the market overall, particularly for new builds and we are seeing new developments coming to the market frequently. These have strong appeal to both first-home buyers and investors.”
Mr Cornford said developers were active in the market particularly in the Hutt Valley and homes with 700sqm plus of land were being actively sought, particularly if close to a railway station or medium density zoned.
“While some new stock has come to the market in recent weeks, listings throughout the region remain very low and it’s this low level of stock which continues to support value growth in the Wellington region,” he added.
Residential property price rises increased by an average of 4.7% over the past three months in Nelson, with the average price of a home increasing by just 0.9% to $826,983 in September.
Local QV senior property consultant Craig Russell said the majority of that value growth was land value inflation. “Prices for sections in new developments are continuing to creep upwards,” he said. “Interest deductibility on new builds will likely entice investors towards this property type for now.”
However, he warned that rising construction costs and significant delays in awaiting title and construction will also likely dampen demand for new builds to some extent. “A tightening of lending criteria and rising interest rates are also expected to soften property price increases which have been extremely strong to date in 2021,” he added.
In the meantime, he said FOMO (fear of missing out) had re-emerged in the market following lockdown, with pent-up demand and a lack of listings keeping upward pressure on property prices at the time of writing.
Christchurch has started spring with significant house price growth.
Prices in Ōtautahi have increased by an average of 7.7% this quarter with a 3.8% increase during the month of September alone, bringing the average value of a home to $702,215 crossing the $700,000 threshold for the very first time.
Local QV property consultant Olivia Brownie said affordability, low interest rates and supply constraints were still the main drivers in the local housing market, with strong interest from first-home buyers also driving the market upward.
“We expect to see continued upward pressure over the medium term, especially from first-home buyers. However, the long term growth may be influenced by increased interest rates, regulation and a future increase in supply,” she said.
Meanwhile, QV’s latest House Price Index also recorded a significant 11.2% increase in house prices across the Selwyn District this quarter, with the Waimakariri District also registering a double-digit increase of exactly 10%.
“There has been a significant increase in section prices right across the Canterbury region, but especially in the neighbouring Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts. Value for money and growing infrastructure are appealing to buyers in these areas,” Miss Brownie added.
House prices continue to grow in Dunedin albeit at a reduced rate compared to previous highs.
Residential property price rises have been kept to an average of just 2.7% over the past three months in the southern city, with the average price of a home increasing by just 0.6% in September to $689,582. Annually, house prices are up 20.8% on the same time last year.
QV area manager Tim Gibson said Dunedin’s residential property market had returned to normal quickly post lockdown. “Value levels are still showing positive growth but at a lower rate of increase, especially compared to the first four months of the year when prices were increasing roughly four times faster than they are now,” he said.
“Well presented and well located properties are selling particularly well right now, with homes at the top of the property ladder currently outpacing the entry level in terms of value growth by about 2% or more. Given the shortage of supply and high demand we’re also seeing many more opting to upgrade their existing home, rather than purchasing an upgraded one.”
House prices continue to zig-zag in Queenstown, rebounding from a 0.7% drop last month and a rolling three-month average growth rate of 2.9%, to 6.4% and 9.4% respectively in September.
This is part of a larger trend that also saw house prices all-but level out in June, only to experience a sharp 3.5% rise one month later. Then they dropped slightly in August, before climbing even more sharply in September.
In stark contrast to the volatility seen in Queenstown, residential property prices in Invercargill have remained remarkably consistent for five months in a row now.
Invercargill’s average house value increased by 3.7% this quarter to $460,389. Prices went up 1% in September, following in the footsteps of similar rises within the range of 0.8-1.4% in May, June, July, and August. Before that, prices increased by 4% and 3% in the months of February and April alone.
Local QV property consultant Andrew Ronald commented: “Favourable borrowing rates are still encouraging purchasers to the market, stimulating market activity. There is limited stock available, which is helping to fuel price increases.
“We continue to see strong demand for most property types. Investor activity has dropped off over recent months, although there is still strong demand from first-home buyers competing for homes within the $350,000 to $500,000. There is also strong demand for building sites throughout the wider Invercargill locality with price levels strengthening considerably over recent months.”
Provincial centres, North Island
The Bay of Plenty town of Kawerau has experienced the most house price growth as a percentage this quarter (14.6%), followed by Central Hawke’s Bay District (7.5%) and last month’s leader, Waikato District (7.1%).
It’s a completely different story in terms of annual house price growth, with Horowhenua (38.6%) leading and Whanganui (37.1%) and Taupo (36.3%) in second and third place respectively.
Provincial centres, South Island
In the South Island, Westland is top of the provincial charts with house prices rising by an average of 16.5% this quarter, with the Canterbury districts of Waimate (13.5%), Selwyn (11.2%) and Waimakariri (10%) not far behind.
In terms of annual house price growth, Waimate stands hands and shoulders above the rest at 42%, with Selwyn (34.3%) and Grey (33.3%) its nearest competitors.