Falling house prices spread across more of New Zealand

Falling property prices are becoming a feature of more parts of the New Zealand housing market.

QV has reported a significant increase in the number of properties being listed for sale in September – but value growth remained modest.

Five of the 15 main centres reported a drop in values in the September quarter: Auckland, New Plymouth, Napier, Christchurch and Queenstown-Lakes. That's up from four the month before and three in July.

Among smaller regions, Hauraki prices fell 6.4 per cent, Kawerau 5.1 per cent, and Otorohanga 4 per cent.

Invercargill had the fastest quarterly house price growth, up 4.7 per cent.

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There was a jump in the number of properties on the market in September.
CHARLOTTE CURD/STUFF
There was a jump in the number of properties on the market in September.

Napier had previously been one of the areas of strongest growth. In the year to September last year, its prices were up 18.4 per cent. Queenstown, too, has been a strong performer. This time last year, it was up 12.6 per cent on an annual basis.

Annual price growth across the country is now at 4.6 per cent, down from 4.8 per cent in August.

The nationwide average value is now $676,427. When adjusted for inflation, the nationwide annual increase drops slightly to 3.1 per cent.

Auckland's average value for the month was $1.05 million – down 0.7 per cent over the quarter.

Queenstown prices went backwards in the September quarter.
SUPPLIED
Queenstown prices went backwards in the September quarter.

"While listings have increased significantly across most areas, quarterly value growth remains modest due to a lack of new market drivers. Supply has been constrained which, on top of stable interest rates, is keeping values at their current levels," general manager David Nagel said.

"While market activity doesn't appear dramatic on the surface, there is plenty happening behind the scenes. Investors and first-home buyers continue to transform the makeup of more affordable areas on the outskirts of our city centres.

"Investors, in particular, are attracted to these areas due the higher yields attainable in the likes of the Hutt Valley and Porirua."

Invercargill had the fastest quarterly house price growth, up 4.7 per cent.
Studio Jubb
Invercargill had the fastest quarterly house price growth, up 4.7 per cent.

He said population growth and affordability concerns were driving demand for semi-detached units and apartments in the main centres.

"The continued slowdown in the rate of value growth in our main centres continues to have a 'trickle-down' effect on our regional centres, with many smaller provincial areas experiencing a gradual slowdown in growth. In saying this, regions that offer more affordable properties or exceptional lifestyle opportunities continue to see strong value growth." 

In Auckland, property consultant Hugh Robson said South and West Auckland were becoming more popular with first-home buyers taking advantage of low interest rates.

"Investors and speculators have been fairly quiet over the past six months. Those who are still active are seeking land holdings with good future development potential under the Auckland Unitary Plan."

New Plymouth was one of the five main centres where prices fell last month.
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF
New Plymouth was one of the five main centres where prices fell last month.

​CoreLogic head of research Nick Goodall said the fundamental drivers of the market still looked sound.

"While some of the macro-economic factors (GDP growth, net migration) which influence the property market are weakening, we can't ignore the influence of credit availability. With banks dropping mortgage interest rates and subsequently increasing their loan book, demand is holding up," he said.

Goodall said activity in the market was constrained, although there were indications that lenders were starting to offer more money again.

"This appears to be relatively unique to New Zealand and we wouldn't expect it to continue to increase exponentially, especially with more information coming to light across the ditch via the Australian Banking Royal Commission. The industry will likely continue to control its standards and keep lending well below the loan-to-value speed limits, which could restrict the pool of people able to satisfy the banks' criteria to get a mortgage, thus constraining future demand."

Stuff