House prices fall for first time in months

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 09/04/2014

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Christchurch's housing market is showing signs of settling, with a small drop in the average price for the first time in months.

There has also been a fall in the number of first home buyers.

The latest figures from Quotable Value (QV) show the city's average house value was $448,219 in March, 1.5 per cent lower than three months ago but 8.3 per cent up on a year ago.

QV valuer Darryl Taggart said the market was levelling out, but there was still room for price rises ahead.

"There's not the hype we saw a year ago. But there's still lots of activity - a lot of properties selling, and plenty of buyers lining up.

"We expect a continuation of the growth trend."

Taggart said a shortage of homes would keep pressure on prices. However, the recent rises in interest rates, and restrictions on low-deposit borrowing for first-time buyers, were probably having a dampening effect.

"Anyone doing their budget has to calculate affordability," he said.

QV research also indicates the number of first home buyers in Christchurch has dropped about 10 per cent in six months, from 19.3 per cent of the market to 17.2 per cent. This follows the Reserve Bank's October clampdown on loans with deposits of less than 20 per cent.

Last week, listings website realestate.co.nz said the average asking price in the city was $438,129 in March, down 1 per cent since February. The market still favoured sellers, the site said.

Chris Kennedy, spokesman for real estate group Harcourts in Christchurch, said listings for March were down 16 per cent from a year ago, and demand was still exceeding supply.

Nationally the average March price was $466,665, according to QV, almost the same as in February and 8.8 per cent higher than 12 months earlier.

AVERAGE PRICES BY DISTRICT

Tasman $416,036

Nelson $399,835

Marlborough $343,165

Kaikoura $359,167

Buller $210,013

Grey $225,229

Westland $226,774

Hurunui $331,832

Waimakariri $401,323

Christchurch $448,219

Selwyn $494,227

Ashburton $312,384

Timaru $274,778

Central Otago $315,565

Queenstown Lakes $667,851

Dunedin $289,734

Invercargill $206,971

Source: QV

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- The Press

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