Canterbury house values up outside city

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2011
House prices
GRAPHICS TEAM
Average house sale price, May to July 2011.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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House values in Canterbury towns have jumped as earthquake-hit residents leave Christchurch.

Values have risen 4 per cent in Ashburton in the past three months, and 2.9 and 2.1 per cent in the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts, Quotable Value says.

Demand is for houses and sections, as well as rental homes.

Christchurch house values are mainly flat, rising about 1 per cent in the west and north of the city, and falling about the same amount in the east.

However, QV cautioned that the low number of sales made it hard to get a reliable picture of house values in the eastern suburbs.

Chris Flanagan, director of Selwyn real estate company Matson and Allan, said buyers from the Christchurch residential red zone were already in the market. Especially popular were houses and sections in Rolleston, Leeston and Southbridge.

The Christchurch red zones are the quake-damaged riverside suburbs that the Government is clearing with a mass buy-up of houses.

"There's been a real surge in section interest in Selwyn in the last few months since people found out what their situation was in the city. A lot of people looking have been red-zoned," Flanagan said.

He said all but two of a batch of 30 Leeston sections had sold within 10 days, mainly to red-zone buyers expecting their Government payout by the time settlement was due.

"It's been a real surprise. I've been doing this for 25 years and Leeston has always been rather sleepy,'' he said.

"It's very price-driven; it's all about affordability."

Interest from would-be buyers at the My Housing Options expo held in Christchurch in the last weekend of July had been "just nuts", he said. Some locals were buying sections, hoping to sell at a profit.

Ashburton valuer Paul Cunneen said Christchurch people were coming south for homes and jobs, and were looking for houses to rent or buy.

The biggest demand was for family homes under $400,000, and quake-displaced buyers were competing against local demand created by low mortgage rates and a strong farm sector. Local investors were also buying rentals.

He estimated sales in Ashburton were double what they had been last year.

"There's definitely been a lift at the bottom end; there's a lot of activity there. It's really accelerated in the last three months," Cunneen said.

Ashburton leasing agent Raewyn French said a lot of families and some "traumatised" elderly from the Christchurch red zone were hunting for rental homes.

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"We're just crying out for good-quality three-bedroom homes – there's been a shortage since the earthquake,'' she said.

"I thought when things settled down people would go back to Christchurch, but it seems the majority have settled in Ashburton."

Figures for school and electoral enrolments have given a glimpse of the population shift within and out of Christchurch since the earthquakes.

Christchurch electoral rolls have lost 6400 voters since September 30, while Selwyn has gained 515. Almost 3300 Christchurch primary pupils have re-enrolled at schools outside the city.

QV's Christchurch spokeswoman, Melanie Swallow, said there had been a slight housing market recovery since the June 13 quakes, and "some signs of normality" were emerging.

"There are more buyer inquiries and open-home attendance, along with foot traffic through new show homes,'' she said.

"An increase in demand for properties in relatively unaffected suburbs is exactly what we expected to see."

She said red-zone buyers were "testing the waters", and she expected to see a rise in the number of cheaper homes selling.

- The Press

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