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COVID-19 flattening the property curve.

08 Jul 2020

New Zealand’s quicker than expected transition down the lockdown levels has provided a timely reprieve for the residential property market.  The real estate sector is reporting strong interest from vendors with listings back close to normal winter levels, while banks are reporting strong enquiry levels from potential buyers.  But is the resurgence sustainable?

QV General Manager David Nagel said “The QV House Price Data continues to reflect a gradual decline in quarterly growth in June, with 13 of the 16 major cities we monitor showing a reduction in the rate of growth since May. This indicates the heat we saw in the market pre-lockdown gradually dissipating as the market begins to settle”.

The average value nationally increased 1.3% over the past three month period, down from 2.4% in May, with the average value now sitting at $738,018. This represents an increase of 7.4% year on year, slightly down on annual growth of 7.7% last month.  The average value in the Auckland Region sits at $1,082,541, up 1.5% over the last quarter, and remains 5.4% up year on year.

“A combination of pent up demand following lockdown, plus vast numbers of returning expats over the past  few months has contributed to strong attendance at open homes, auctions and tenders in most locations throughout New Zealand. Record low interest rates have also helped to ensure prices have held up well so far with an active buyer pool dominated by investors and first home buyers”, says Mr Nagel. 

“The resilience of the New Zealand economy as well as the property market has surprised many commentators, no doubt assisted by the country’s rapid return to a new normal. But with government wage subsidies ending in September and many homeowners that sought relief from banks with mortgage holidays likely to feel some financial pressure heading into summer, the worst is still ahead of us”, he says.

“We’re seeing some early signs of value stress with the QV House Price Index in Queenstown declining by 1.5% for the three month period to June.  This is the first fall in quarterly values for a major urban area that we’ve seen this year.  This is not unexpected given the heavy reliance on tourism and short stay rental accommodation in this location”, he says.  

“Market resilience over the coming months will be reliant on a continuation of returning Kiwis feeding demand as both buyers and tenants.  Grounded Kiwi’s unable to embark on their OE will also help to fill the void of migrants coming into the country. It goes without saying that a return to lockdown protocols would be catastrophic to market confidence”, says Mr Nagel.

“Our earlier projections that the market will experience a correction of 5-10% by Christmas time from the pre-COVID high of January to March 2020 is still looking likely.  While some parts of the country will be harder hit than others, any fall in value should be put into context.  Most parts of New Zealand have experienced value growth in  excess of 5-10% in just the past 12 months, so for those that can weather the storm, this is simply a passing aberration”, he says. 

A full breakdown of the QV House Price Index figures for June 2020 is available by clicking here

 

Auckland
The Auckland area saw values increase 5.4% year on year and 1.5% over the last quarter.  The average house is valued at $1,082,541. 

Within Auckland, houses in the Rodney area experienced 0.8% quarterly growth while North Shore values went up 1.2%, Waitakere at 2.0% and Manukau at 1.9%.  Values in the Papakura area went up by 1.8% over the three month period. 

Annual growth painted a different picture with Auckland’s North Shore leading the way at 5.9%, followed by Auckland City at 5.8% growth, and by Manukau at 5.7%. 

“The data confirms what the valuers on the ground are seeing” says QV Senior Consultant Rupert Yortt. “Prices are holding up with a lack of listings and low interest rates driving demand. The pent-up interest from the lock down period is starting to ease as the market is showing a more accurate story of what is going in the Auckland residential market.”

“Auctions throughout the region have delivered mixed results with most auction rooms seeing good numbers and good prices being achieved while at the same time, there are some properties receiving little interest at all. Well presented homes for owner occupiers are still selling well at all value levels with caution being present elsewhere as investors, who are looking for a bargain, take more of a wait and see approach” says Mr Yortt.

“The hit to Kiwisaver balances is being felt at the lower end of the market with multi-offer situations often falling down to only one or two offers remaining on the table when it comes to the crunch time. 

Developers appear to be willing to negotiate on prices with an uncertain view of the market heading into late 2020” says Mr Yortt.

Hamilton

Residential property sale prices have remained relatively stable in Hamilton City with the average median one month change showing a -0.2% decrease. 468 sales were recorded for the month of June, with the average median price for the city now at $627,777; slightly below the region high currently set by Waipa District at $633,778 (down -0.6%). The Waikato District experienced the highest increase for the June month, with 102 sales increasing their average median price 2.6% to $539,667.

QV Property Consultant Jarrod Hedley  says “Values across other parts of the Waikato region have remained buoyant with agents continuing to report a shortage of stock on the market post lockdown, moving into the colder months.” 

“Multi-offers also continue to be expressed for properties that are well priced and attractive to the market. Current sentiment is that buyers are active in all price brackets, with new residential developments, including apartments and townhouses, giving potential purchasers plenty to think about in terms of where and what they want from a home coming out of lockdown.”

Tauranga

QV data for Tauranga shows an average value of just over $794,000. Values have increased 6.7% over the last 12 months and 2.8% over the 3 months. Since the previous market peak of 2007 there  has been a 64.9% increase on house prices in the city.

QV Property Consultant Derek Turnwald notes that the Bay of Plenty region is one of only five in New Zealand where residential values have continued to rise post COVID-19 lockdown. “The demand for residential property in the Tauranga suburbs of Papamoa, Gate Pa, Judea and Haririni remains strong as these suburbs are considered more affordable than the central suburbs, Ohauiti and Matua. 

“There is a lack of listings throughout the city and this is most likely due to a current nationwide trend as residential property owners wait to see what the post COVID-19 lockdown future holds. It is also an election year which generally results in a more cautious approach by buyers and sellers.

Rotorua
Rotorua data for the month of June showed an average residential value of just over $520,000, a 12 month increase of 10.1%, a three month increase of 0.9%. This is 77.2% above the last market peak which was in 2007. 

QV Property Consultant Derek Turnwald says the Rotorua residential property market was expected to be impacted more heavily than most other cities with the local tourism industry being heavily impacted by the border closures in response to COVID-19 however, so far demand for residential property has remained reasonably strong. 

“Prospective purchasers not affected by job losses have remained active in the market and investor interest is still high. Most properties are still selling under multi offer situations. There is still a lack of listings particularly, in the higher value range and this is most likely due to a nationwide trend of people waiting to see just what the post COVID-19 lockdown future holds. A cautious optimism pervades the Rotorua residential market at present.”

New Plymouth
New Plymouth data shows values increased by 9.8% over the last twelve months and 0.5% over the last quarter. The average value is now $508,666.

QV Property Consultant Danny Grace says the Taranaki market is very active in New Plymouth, Stratford and South Taranaki. “Agents, mortgage brokers and bank lenders report to be very busy. The market is the strongest at the lower end, with the current low interest rates and LVR easing, meaning investors and first home buyers are in stronger buying positions” he says. 

“Agents report strong interest leading to multi offers on lower valued properties, with comparable selling periods to the COVID-19 outbreak. While there have been sales of properties above this price range the volume is much smaller than that of the lower end of the market. While agents report interest in property at the higher end of the market they speculate that over the coming year, this may be an area of the market that softens” says Mr Grace. 

“We are hearing from real estate agents and developers that there is interest in well-located vacant sections, indicating that there are buyers out there still considering building. There have been sales of smaller properties with subdivision potential that were purchased by builders, indicating they are also somewhat positive.”

Hawke's Bay
Modest value growth was seen in Napier and Hastings with values increasing by 10.1% and 12.6% respectively over the last twelve months. Napier increased 2.6% over the last quarter while Hastings values increased 2.0% over the same period. The average value for Napier is $614,322, while Hastings sits at $587,931.

QV Property Consultant Nicola Waldon says QV’s House Price Index data shows a fall over the past month in three out of the five Hawkes Bay Territorial Authorities with positive growth showing only in Napier and Central Hawkes Bay. 

“Agents are reporting low listing numbers contrasted by strong demand. Most listings are selling quickly and viewings are still busy. There does not appear to have been a surge in people having to sell due to impacts of COVID-19.”

“We are hearing that the banks are tightening up on things at present despite the low interest rates and easing of LVR restrictions” says Ms Waldon. “We are getting a lot of urgent valuation requests, which could be explained by bankers telling clients they will not be required to get a valuation prior to tightening of lending which has required last minute valuations prior to unconditional date.”

Palmerston North
Strong value growth was seen in Palmerston North with values increasing by 14.2% over the last twelve months and 1.8% over the last quarter. The average value is now $509,859.

The Palmerston North residential market appears relatively stable across the board with strong demand for properties in the lower price bracket $400,000 to $500,000 says QV Property Consultant Olivia Roberts. 

“Sales of properties within this bracket appear to be at pre COVID-19 lockdown levels, if not stronger in some cases There is still a shortage of listings which is boosting buyer demand. Real estate agents are still reporting steady demand with multiple offers being received, particularly for tidy, well maintained or newer dwellings throughout Palmerston North. There is still uncertainty in the market as we have not yet seen the full effect COVID-19 has had on the property market” says Ms Roberts.

Wellington
The Wellington area saw values increasing by 10.4% over the last twelve months and 0.4% over the last quarter. The average value is now $783,655.

Hutt City led the way with 15.0% annual growth and 1.6% quarterly increase to the end of June. The average price is $686,283. Upper Hutt and Porirua also saw growth with annual increases of 13.6% and 15.5% respectively.  The average prices there are now $639,489 and $691,176

The value growth seen prior to COVID-19 has dissipated however, the Wellington market continues to show resilience with plenty of buyers out there relative to the number of listings on the market says QV Senior Consultant David Cornford.

“Open homes have been well attended with both first home buyers and investors present in the market. Property priced under $800,000 in Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Porirua is most in demand.”

“Wellington continues to be a sellers’ market and this likely will not change unless more listings come onto the market. Despite the economic outlook, buyers have shown they are still prepared to continue with their purchasing decisions, relatively undeterred”, says Mr Conford.

Nelson/Tasman

Modest value growth was seen in Nelson with values increasing by 5.9% over the last twelve months and 0.6% over the last quarter. The average value is now $661,345.

“The property market has been active post lock down with strong numbers at open homes and multiple offers being reported for entry and mid-price housing in urban areas: says QV Senior Consultant Craig Russell. 

“The removal of LVR restrictions, existing pent up demand from lock down and low interest rates continue to be factors that are positively impacting house prices in the region, with first home buyers prevalent. However we have seen the market plateau over the last few months with the number of properties available for sale steadily rising in recent months. This increased inventory is providing purchasers with greater choice. Spring will be a critical period for the local property market as the wage subsidy comes to an end” says Mr Russell. 

Christchurch
Modest value growth was seen in Christchurch with values increasing by 3.7% over the last twelve months and 0.8% over the last quarter. The average value is now $518,369.

“To date there has been no substantial reduction in value levels noticed across Christchurch post lockdown”, says QV Senior Consultant Kris Rogers.  

“COVID-19 has however served to cool a market that was starting to develop some momentum prior to the lockdown. Prior to this 6 month period of growth, Christchurch had experienced limited growth for a prolonged period of some 30-36 months, which was in contrast to most of the rest of the country”, he says. 

“It is anticipated that this preceding period of little to no growth will help minimise any potential effects any market downturn will have on value levels across the region moving forward” says Mr Roger

Dunedin
The data shows strong value growth continues in Dunedin with values increasing by 18.9% over the last twelve months and 1.8% over the last quarter. The average value is now $547,531.

QV Property consultant Tom Patterson says “The latest statistics for Dunedin City show a slight decline in values compared to the previous month although the residential market remains active, underpinned by a general shortage in housing stock. This is particularly evident in the lower to medium price brackets where first home buyers are present.”

“There has also been a number of transactions in the upper price brackets post lockdown which is an indication of confidence in the market”, says Mr Patterson.

Queenstown Lakes
Queenstown values increased slightly by 1.6% over the last twelve months but fell by -1.5% over the last quarter. The average value is now $1,192,613. Since the last market peak in 2007 values have increased by 73.4%.

QV Property Consultant Greg Simpson sees limited disruption to the Queenstown Lakes District property market. “Post lockdown, despite some market uncertainty a healthy 114 sales were recorded in the last quarter.

Invercargill

QV data shows strong value growth was seen in Invercargill with values increasing by 18.6% over the last twelve months and 2.6% over the last quarter. The average value is now $355,952.

Post lockdown, QV Property Consultant Andrew Ronald is seeing strong demand for properties within the $250,000 to $400,000 range. “Multiple offers remain common and prices are at similar levels to pre-lockdown. Buyers are predominantly locals and first home buyers and there is limited  investor interest. We’re not seeing much market activity in price ranges above $500,000.”

Provincial centres, North Island

Waitomo leads the North Island in quarterly growth, up 9.9%, followed by South Taranaki 6.6% and South Waikato 6.2%. Whanganui leads the way in annual growth, up 27.0%, followed by Ranitikei 25.5% and South Waikato at 22.9%.

Provincial centres, South Island

Clutha leads the South Island in quarterly growth, up 5.7%, followed by Waitaki 4.8% and Westland 4.5%. Clutha also leads the way in annual growth, up 22.5%, followed by Dunedin Taieri 20.1% and Gore at 19.2%.

 
Annual change in values
For all media queries, please email our National Spokesperson Kirsten Magnusson, kirsten.magnusson@qv.co.nz or call 09 361 7216.
 

NB: Our partners CoreLogic have incorporated an improvement to the methodology in November 2018, which underpins the House Price Index figures. The change only concerns aggregated indices (i.e. where an index covers multiple Territorial Authorities). This new methodology provides less volatility and a more precise measure of value changes. This change only impacts recent movements, with the historical series mostly not impacted. If you have any questions regarding the change, please get in touch with us by emailing communications@qv.co.nz 

The QV HPI uses a rolling three month collection of sales data, based on sales agreement date. This has always been the case and ensures a large sample of sales data is used to measure value change over time. This does mean the measure is less reactive to recent market movements but offers a very smooth trend over time. Also, due to having agent and non-agent sales included the index provides the most comprehensive measure of property value change over the longer term.

With the COVID-19 enforced level 4 lockdown rendering property settlements that require physical movement of people unlawful, April will have a significantly reduced number of sales which means the latest index is dominated by sales from before the lockdown.

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