Wellington property sales slow, but not all bad

JAMES WEIR
Last updated 08:45 12/02/2013

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The Wellington property market is lagging behind the strong house price rises in the hot spots of Auckland and Christchurch.

In the past year till January, QV figures show house prices in Wellington up just 1.8 per cent, well behind the more than 6 per cent national gain and 10 per cent in Auckland.

QV valuer Pieter Geill said in the past few weeks many properties had come on to the market.

"Houses that haven't sold over winter are now starting to sell," he said.

But the Wellington market was just not as buoyant as other parts of New Zealand, because of a lack of job security.

"There is still a lot of restructuring in Wellington and we don't have growing employment so things are not going to be buoyant for some time here."

There had been some positive signs with multiple offers for well-presented homes in good areas.

"But the balance of the market just sits. The traditional basic home, without a lot of appeal in not a great street - every buyer for that home is going to be tight for money and looking for value," Geill said.

Economists said the rises in Auckland and Christchurch were driven by a shortage of supply, supported by low mortgage interest rates.

Infometrics managing director Gareth Kiernan said house prices in Wellington were flat.

"It comes back to the tightness in government spending and the difficulty that is placing on the regional economy," he said.

"I don't see that changing in the next couple of years."

In terms of weekly outgoings, it was still cheaper to rent than buy, he said. Rental yields also remained low by historical standards.

"If you are not expecting massive capital gains in two or three [years] you would have to question why you are rushing into the property market."

Nationally, house prices were perhaps 10 per cent above the trend line, Kiernan said.

Marty Scott, managing director of Harcourts in Wellington, said house sales volumes had risen 10 to 20 per cent on the same time a year ago and prices were up "modestly".

"The market feels a bit more robust than 12 months ago," Scott said, and if volumes continued to rise, prices would rise a little too.

The market was hot in Auckland, but that would not necessarily spread to the rest of the country. "Buyers are being pretty cautious."

But for homes up to $800,000, if the property was well presented with modern kitchen and bathrooms, there was "plenty of competition", with multiple offers.

Contact James Weir
Business editor
Email: james.weir@dompost.co.nz

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