Scramble even for 'very untidy' homes
Canterbury-Westland homes are the fastest-selling in the country and prices are at record levels as first-time buyers scramble to outrun lending restrictions.
Despite a shortage of homes, real estate agents and mortgage brokers are seeing strong interest from first-timers trying to beat October's Reserve Bank caps on low-deposit lending.
More homes are selling at auction.
Real Estate Institute director Tony McPherson said buyers were "very active" in Christchurch, with investors and first-home buyers after similar types of properties.
Agent Lynette McFadden, of Harcourts, said a lot of first-home buyers were downsizing their expectations to get into the market.
The first-home and investor markets were "very, very strong", as was demand for earthquake-damaged "as is, where is" houses.
"People can't afford that first house at $350,000 or $450,000, so they're starting with two-bedroom units. I think they have to - it gets them on the ladder," she said.
David Blackwell, of Total Realty, said first-home buyers were "out there trying to get it done; there are a lot of them out there".
On Saturday, Blackwell had five bidders competing for a "very untidy" Avonhead house.
The long-tenanted home "badly needed a makeover" and sold well above the expected price.
On Sunday, more than half the parties through a newly listed Halswell open home wanted to buy the house, he said.
Institute figures show Canterbury-Westland's median August price was $365,000, almost 6 per cent up on a year ago.
Christchurch's median was $374,000, higher than August 2012 but down slightly from last month, partly because of more cheaper homes selling.
The institute's house price index, which adjusts for different types of homes selling, found city prices rose 6.1 per cent in a year.
BNZ bank chief economist Tony Alexander's August housing report was entitled "No Good News For Buyers".
More investors tired of low-interest bank deposits were buying houses nationally, squeezing out first-home buyers, he said.
A jump in the number of sales going unconditional indicated buyers were keen to "lock in" deals and beat the new rules, he said.
The pressure is also boosting auctions as owners and agents struggle to pin down fast-moving values.
Seventeen per cent of lst month's Canterbury-Westland sales were under the hammer, amounting to 145 auction sales, whereas a year ago it was only 11 per cent.
McFadden said even owners in their 80s were now suggesting auctions for their homes "and that's not a conversation we expected".
Prices were up particularly strongly in Rangiora and other parts of North Canterbury.
The number of sales was 12 per cent higher than a year ago.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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