Val­ues up, sales down in Au­gust mar­ket

Otago Daily Times - - Business & Money - si­mon.hart­ley@odt.co.nz SI­MON HART­LEY

FOR only the third time in seven years no re­gion around the coun­try booked an in­crease in house sales for Au­gust, but prop­erty prices across New Zealand in­creased 8.2% on a year ago to $530,000.

Prices com­pared with Au­gust last year in the Queen­stown Lakes district rose 10.9% to $850,000, Cen­tral Otago rose 25.3% to $470,000, and Dunedin rose 6.3% to $345,000. Otago gained 10.9% to $380,000.

The num­ber of prop­er­ties sold across the coun­try fell 20% dur­ing Au­gust, down by 1472 when com­pared with Au­gust last year — the equiv­a­lent of 47 fewer prop­er­ties be­ing sold each day dur­ing Au­gust, Real Es­tate In­sti­tute of New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Bindi Nor­well said.

The re­gions with the big­gest re­duc­tion in vol­umes were South­land, down 37.3%, North­land by 29.4%, Taranaki 25.9%, Waikato 25% and Auck­land 21.5%.

‘‘Again, we’ve seen the num­ber of prop­er­ties sold across the coun­try drop sig­nif­i­cantly. Banks’ lend­ing cri­te­ria and LVRs [loan to value ra­tio re­stric­tions] are still im­pact­ing first­home buy­ers and in­vestors,’’ she said.

Only four re­gions ex­pe­ri­enced a de­crease in me­dian prices dur­ing Au­gust. Auck­land, Gis­borne, Tas­man and the West Coast all de­clined.

REINZ re­gional di­rec­tor in Queen­stown Gail Hud­son said the high Queen­stown me­dian sale price con­tin­ued to prove chal­leng­ing for first­home buy­ers, which meant the lower end of the lo­cal mar­ket had con­tin­ued to strug­gle.

‘‘How­ever, in­ter­est in the re­main­ing sec­tors of the Queen­stown mar­ket re­main ro­bust,’’ she said.

REINZ re­gional com­men­ta­tor in Dunedin Liz Nidd said while Au­gust sales num­bers were down, that was not sur­pris­ing given the con­tin­ued short­age of list­ings.

She said many po­ten­tial sell­ers were not list­ing their home for sale be­cause of con­cerns they may not be able to find some­thing to buy.

‘‘There is still an abun­dance of buy­ers, in­clud­ing in­vestors in the mar­ket and with mul­ti­ple of­fers hap­pen­ing in al­most ev­ery sale ven­dors are achiev­ing pleas­ing re­sults,’’ Mrs Nidd said.

ASB econ­o­mist Kim Mundy said the hous­ing mar­ket’s di­rec­tion over com­ing months re­mained ‘‘murky’’, given the un­cer­tainty around the up­com­ing elec­tion.

‘‘ How­ever, our longer­term view re­mains un­changed where strong de­mand and a slug­gish con­struc­tion re­sponse will sup­port prices,’’ Ms Mundy said.

The hous­ing mar­ket re­mained markedly more sub­dued than 12 months ago as 2016’s loan­to­value ra­tio re­stric­tions, higher mort­gage rates and elec­tion un­cer­tainty weighed on ac­tiv­ity, she said.

Ms Nor­well said the num­ber of homes sold fell in ev­ery price bracket. Those which sold for more than $1 mil­lion were down 18%, to 787 and those which sold for less than $500,000 down by 38%, to 2705.

‘‘[How­ever] agents across the coun­try ex­pect the mar­ket to pick up as we move into spring and even more so, once the elec­tion is over,’’ Ms Nor­well said.

In Au­gust, a fifth re­gion ex­ceeded the me­dian house price of half­a­mil­lion­dol­lars for the first time, when Nel­son’s me­dian price hit $518,000. It joined Auck­land, Bay of Plenty, Welling­ton and Tas­man.

PHOTO: GER­ARD O’BRIEN

See­saw . . . Sales down, prices up; Dunedin city house prices rose 6.3% to $345,000 against Au­gust last year, but were down 6.6% on July’s $370,000.

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