Property values rising at a lesser pace

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 12:00 06/06/2014

House values rose 8.2 per cent last month compared with May last year, but the pace of annual growth continues to slow.

Values rose 8.4 per cent in April and 8.8 per cent in March, QV's residential housing price index shows.

The national house value averaged $471,791 last month, creeping up 0.7 per cent in past three months.

While house values are now nearly 14 per cent above the previous market peak in 2007, economists say a lack of supply is the main factor holding prices up.

Sales volumes around the country were 10 to 15 per cent lower than in May last year, "which could be a normal winter seasonal effect but it could also be a precursor to values dropping", QV spokeswoman Andrea Rush said.

ASB economist Christina Leung said Kiwis were generally seeing a decline in house market activity, "but the price declines have been fairly muted and that's due to the housing supply being very low".

Figures out yesterday from leading Auckland agency Barfoot & Thompson showed new house listings were well down, "so that just illustrates how tight the Auckland market is", she said.

Leung said it was encouraging to see new construction picking up, although it would take about a year to see its effects.

ASB predicts annual house price inflation to "broadly slow" to 5 per cent by the end of the year.

QV's figures showed Auckland property values were up 13 per cent on a year ago, with an average worth of $713,709, rising 2.6 per cent in the three months to May.

That meant Auckland properties were nearly 31 per cent more expensive than they were in 2007, or 12.1 per cent after adjusting for inflation.

Auckland valuer Bruce Wiggins said sellers were getting variable outcomes.

Some properties, particularly in South Auckland's Greenlane and Mangere, were getting strong prices, while unrenovated inner-city dwellings were not meeting expectations.

"The feeling is there are less buyers, especially considering the prices required," he said.

Many auctions in the otherwise steady North Shore market were attracting no bids or seeing houses passed in.

Lending appeared to be on the rise and interest rate rises did not appear to have dampened demand, he said.

In the wider Wellington area, the average value was $452,099, up 1.8 per cent annually and down 0.3 per cent for the month.

"Buyers are very cautious and particular about what they will buy," Wellington valuer Pieter Geill said.

"There seems to be little urgency to make a decision from buyers as most properties are not getting snapped up quickly, and there has been low attendance at open homes."

However, mortgagee sales were selling well, as were well-presented and well-located homes.

Houses in Greater Christchurch were worth on average $456,962, up 7.6 per cent annually but down 0.2 per cent in the three months to May.

In the provinces, strong performers included Tauranga, where the average annual value rose 5.1 per cent to $450,614, and western Bay of Plenty, up 8.2 per cent annually to $417,637.

Hamilton was up 4.8 per cent on a year ago to $364,004 and 0.3 per cent in May.

- Stuff

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