'Gentle' rise in house values in Wellington

CATHERINE HARRIS AND JAMES WEIR
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014

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National house values have risen 9.3 per cent in the past year, though Wellington prices are on a much slower "gentle" track upwards.

Figures for February from the country's state-owned valuation company show that the national average house value is $468,484, 13 per cent above the previous market peak in late 2007.

Growth in property values had been slowing for two months, with an annual increase of 9.6 per cent in January and 10 per cent in December.

Meanwhile, QV spokeswoman Andrea Rush said the Reserve Bank's speed limits on low-deposit mortgages were having an effect.

"Last month was the very first sign that the steady upward trajectory on the New Zealand, Auckland and Christchurch values over the past couple of years is starting to level off," she said.

"This is a clear indication the LVR [loan-to-value ratio] caps are taking effect and they appear to have led to a reduction in the rate of value growth in the residential property market."

The Reserve Bank is widely expected to lift official interest rates next week, with four and perhaps five rate rises expected over 2014. ASB economists said they expected house-price inflation would ease from the current 10 per cent to about 6.5 per cent by the end of the year.

The Wellington region market continued its "gentle" upward trajectory, with house prices in the region increasing 2.9 per cent on year-ago levels. The average value for Wellington city was just under $537,000. The most expensive area was the western suburbs with an average price of about $618,000.

However, Wellington prices are just 0.8 per cent up from the last peak in the market in 2007.

Wellington valuer Kerry Buckeridge said there had been a significant increase in the number of properties for sale.

Some properties, such as "well presented" inner-city character two bedroom properties were selling fast for "seriously good prices", Mr Buckeridge said.

Developers were still reasonably confident about the central Wellington city area and inner suburbs. There were several good quality apartment and townhouse developments either in the pipeline or under way.

"These are in high demand by inner-city professionals and are commanding good rents," he said.

While Wellington prices are largely back around levels seen in 2007, some provincial areas have seen prices hammered in the past six years or so, even excluding the impact of inflation.

For example, Masterton prices are down 16 per cent from 2007, with Horowhenua just under 16 per cent down.

Central Hawke's Bay prices are down almost 25 per cent, from 2007 while Ruapehu, Rangitikei and Whanganui were down almost 20 per cent. The worst slump in prices was in Kawerau, Bay of Plenty, down about 35 per cent from 2007, with an average house price of just $104,000.

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That compares with an average house prices of more than $1 million in parts of central (eastern city) Auckland.

QV said property values in the Auckland region had continued to rise last month, increasing year on year by 14 per cent.

AT A GLANCE

Lower North Island QV values and 12-month price change:

Manawatu: $239,351, up 0.7 per cent

Palmerston North: $287,381, up 1.3 per cent

Tararua: $151,974, down 2.2 per cent

Horowhenua: $200,106, up 1 per cent

Kapiti Coast: $368,905 , up 1.6 per cent

Porirua: $379,370, up 3 per cent

Upper Hutt: $336,772, up 2.3 per cent

Hutt: $375,983, up 3.6 per cent

Wellington: $536,797, up 2.7 per cent

Wellington Central & South: $542,486, up 2.6 per cent

Wellington East: $578,374, up 0.8 per cent

Wellington North: $472,283, up 3.6 per cent

Wellington West: $618,379, up 3.4 per cent

Masterton: $238,824, up 3.6 per cent

Napier: $323,555 up 1 per cent

Hastings: $301,571, up 2.2 per cent

New Plymouth: $346,359, up 5.7 per cent

Source: QV

- BusinessDesk

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