Main centres drive up house prices
New Zealand house values lifted 4.6 per cent in the year ending July, mainly driven by increases in the big centres - particularly Auckland and Christchurch.
Home buyers are moving to lock in low interest rates but may be disappointed by the number and quality of listings, QV says.
National house values rose 2.2 per cent over April to July, and are now only 0.8 per cent below the previous market peak of late 2007.
QV.co.nz research director Jonno Ingerson said listings remained tight in the main centres, putting pressure on prices.
"In Auckland this has led to a sellers' market with prices pushing upwards, while Wellington is showing the first signs of heading that way too."
House values for wider Auckland are up 6.3 per cent for the year, with more rapid growth since April - of 3.1 per cent.
Christchurch values are up 5.8 per cent for the year, and now sit 1.9 per cent above the 2007 market peak.
But Wellington values have been more subdued, lifting just 2.1 per cent over the year, with most of that increase in the second half of 2011 and no change in the past three months.
House values in the capital are 5.7 per cent below the market peak.
Ingerson said first home buyers were active, as they sought to take advantage of low interest rates on mortgages and that was starting to tempt property investors and small developers back into the market.
"Although investors are now careful to ensure their purchases return a decent yield rather than relying on capital gain.
"There has also been an increase in activity in the middle to upper range of the market which can possibly be attributed to people coming back into the market after having held off for several years."
Values in most provincial areas remained relatively stable over the past year, with the biggest movements in Gisborne (down 4.2 per cent), Napier (down 1.7 per cent), Palmerston North (up 2.2 per cent), and Nelson (up 1.9 per cent).
Ingerson said buyers had regained some confidence and sales activity for the year was well above the previous two years.
He expected sales volumes would follow the usual annual trend of increasing until November, but said a lack of quality listings could prevent enthusiastic buyers from purchasing.