House prices reach new record highs in New Zealand

House prices in New Zealand reached record highs in September but sales are down while more first time buyers want new build homes, the latest index shows.

Home values reached a new record national median price of $515,000 and $400,000 outside of Auckland for the first time and overall six regions recorded records, the date from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows.

Prices reached $390,000 in Northland, $458,500 in Waikato/Bay of Plenty, $350,000 in Taranaki, $480,000 in Wellington, $450,000 in Nelson/Marlborough and $296,000 in Otago. At the same time, Auckland’s median price has risen 7% year on year to $825,000, although it fell 2% on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The number of sales nationwide fell 2% compared to August and are down 10% compared to September 2015, with sales for Auckland falling 23% compared to September last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, Auckland sales in September fell 3%.

‘The real estate market in New Zealand appears to be in something of a two speed mode at present, with Auckland pausing for breath during a wet school holiday period and ahead of likely new Spring growth,’ said REINZ spokesperson Bryan Thomson.

‘We are also seeing anecdotal evidence that first home buyers in Auckland are now favouring new builds as a way of getting finance in the light of the new LVR restrictions. Meanwhile, across the rest of the country prices continue to rise, still demonstrating strong price and volume growth,’ he added.

Across New Zealand the total value of residential sales was $4.894 billion in September, compared to $5.182 billion in September 2015 and $4.841 billion in August. For the 12 months ended September 2016 the total value of residential sales was $58.199 billion.

The data also shows that Central Otago Lakes recorded the largest percentage increase in median price compared to September 2015 with growth of 41%, followed by Nelson/Marlborough up 22% and Waikato/Bay of Plenty up 18%.

The number of properties available for sale across all regions in New Zealand except Auckland has continued to fall between September 2015 and September 2016. Wellington has the fewest properties for sale with seven weeks of supply, closely followed by Otago with under 10 weeks supply, Hawke’s Bay with 10 weeks of supply, and Waikato/Bay of Plenty and Nelson/Marlborough with 11 weeks of supply.

Auckland saw an uptick in the level of inventory from 10 to 12.5 weeks of supply. The number of days to sell has been steady at 31 days compared to September 2015, although the regions have seen some significant improvements with six regions seeing a decrease of 20% or more in the number of days to sell. Auckland and Canterbury/Westland were the only regions to see a lengthening of the number of days to sell over the past 12 months.