Southland 'affordable, great place to live'

Looking for a cheap house? Southland's your best bet, September house sales data shows.

The median sale price in Southland in September was $189,500.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) show the Southland figures are the lowest of all 12 New Zealand regions surveyed. The national median sale price in September was $400,000.

Invercargill Deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow said the numbers showed Southland was a "great, affordable place to live".

Real estate agent Jon Irving said, "Hopefully, they [prices] attract more people to come and buy houses here".

The total number of houses sold in Southland in September was 145, up from 131 in August and up from 117 in September last year.

The houses sold last month took an average of 48 days to sell, a significant decrease from the 71 days recorded in August.

REINZ spokeswoman Liz Nidd said this "suggests the market is quite a lot busier than it has been", and buyers were responding more quickly to opportunities than they had in the past.

Mr Irving said the real estate market in Southland had been steady in recent months. "There was a boost following the announcement that Tiwai Pt [aluminium smelter] was going to continue."

The Reserve Bank introduced new restrictions on high loan-to-value ratio lending on October 1.

Under the new restrictions, mortgages with a deposit of less than 20 per cent can only make up 10 per cent of a bank's total mortgage lending.

Mr Irving said the restrictions had had a "levelling effect" on the market.

"They haven't brought prices down, but at the same time prices haven't gone up either," he said.

Data was also released for the Central Otago Lakes region, which includes Queenstown, where the median house price in September was $462,000, the second highest in the country.

Exactly 229 properties were sold and they took on average 29 days to sell.

Andrew Voerman is a journalism student at Canterbury University

The Southland Times