Eastern suburbs lead the way

First-home buyers and investors are resisting vendor overtures in Wellington, although demand for homes is still high in the eastern suburbs.

According to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, the median price for the Wellington region fell by $5000 (or 1.3 per cent) compared to June, with the largest falls being 12 per cent in the Hutt Valley and nine per cent in Central Wellington.

"Both first-home buyers and investors are few and far between across Wellington, with the flow-on effect to open home attendances," REINZ director Euon Murrell says.

"Further, the number of listings coming to market is falling and existing listings in some categories are not moving."

Year-on-year, the median price fell $10,000 (or 2.6 per cent) to $380,000, with the western and southern suburbs recording 10 per cent-plus declines.

However, the median price in the eastern suburbs was up 17.9 per cent year-on-year and 9.8 per cent month-on- month, to $560,000 - the highest recorded for the region.

Pukerua Bay/Tawa's median price also improved, up 14 per cent from $399,500 in July 2013 to $411,685 (compared to $361,000 in June).

The Hutt Valley's was $315,750 compared to $360,000 the previous month whereas Upper Hutt's improved by 6.3 per cent to $324,450 (but was down 1.7 per cent year-on-year).

Central Wellington posted a median price of $410,000, compared to $452,000 in June and $390,000 a year earlier, while the northern suburbs' was down 7.0 per cent to $427,000 and slipped slightly more year-on-year.

Conversely, the southern suburbs' median rose 7.2 per cent, to $497,500 (but was down 10.1 per cent year-on- year); the western suburbs suffered an 11.4 per cent annual decline and a 4.3 per cent monthly fall, to $550,000.

Compared to June, sales volumes rose 10 per cent across the region, with sales up 75 per cent in Upper Hutt, 39 per cent in Central Wellington and 31 per cent in the southern suburbs.

Compared to July 2013, sales volumes rose 1.3 per cent, with sales up 53 per cent in Central Wellington, 35 per cent in the eastern suburbs and 27 per cent in Upper Hutt.

The number of days to sell improved from 47 in June to 46 in July but eased by three days compared to July 2013.

Over the past 10 years the median number of days to sell in July has averaged 41 days across the region.

The REINZ figures reflect the latest monthly QV Residential Price Movement Index.

It shows property values in the Wellington region are down 0.9 per cent over the past three months but up 1.2 per cent year-on-year. Wellington City's slipped 0.8 per cent over the past three months and Lower Hutt's 2.3 per cent in the past three months, with values now the same as they were this time last year.

Upper Hutt values are down 0.3 per cent over the past three months and year-on-year, whereas values in the Kapiti Coast District have risen 0.6 per cent over the past three months and are 3.2 per cent higher year-on-year.

"Year-on-year values in Wellington have increased, but the rate of increase is dropping month-on-month which is reflective of there being lower sales volumes than this time last year," QV Wellington registered valuer Kerry Buckeridge says.

Real estate agents who had been previously optimistic were now saying there has been very little activity over the past six weeks, he says.

"The Hutt Valley is very quiet, perhaps more so than Wellington.

"Demand for apartments is low, particularly as for many the operating costs have increased due, partly, to the increased insurance costs following the Christchurch earthquakes and also the need for earthquake strengthening in some buildings. With insurance premiums now beginning to be struck at slightly lower levels than at the peak, those buildings still needing to maintain high body corporate levies due to the need to fund deferred maintenance or earthquake strengthening are suffering in the marketplace."

The Dominion Post