Christchurch, Auckland supply shortage lifts property values

Dec. 11 (BusinessDesk) - A lack of houses in New Zealand's two biggest cities has driven up property values across the country and seen sale prices hit a new record-high.

Property values rose 1.9 percent in the three months ended Nov. 30 and are 5.7 percent higher on an annual basis, according to government valuer Quotable Value. The figures come the same day Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data shows the median sale price rose 4.3 percent in November to a record $383,250 from a year earlier, and as sales volumes surged 24 percent to 7,454.

"Housing turnover has picked up steadily over the past year, as confidence has returned to the housing market underpinned by expectations of low interest rates and gradually improving household confidence," ASB economist Jane Turner said in a note on the REINZ figures.

"Listings data suggest house sales may be constrained by low supply, particularly in Auckland. This implies that demand could be stronger than the level of turnover suggests," she said.

Last week the Reserve Bank flagged its wariness of the Auckland property market, which is starting to strengthen with cheaper bank funding costs leading to increased competition and lower mortgage rates. That prompted the central bank to warn it may have to hike interest rates if property prices keep going gang-busters and lead to another housing bubble.

"Recent building activity figures show an increase in new housing construction in Canterbury and Auckland, which suggests supply is now responding to the increase in house prices and could help alleviate pricing pressures over the coming year," Turner said.

The REINZ figures showed Auckland’s median house price rose 1.9 percent from October to a new record median price of $540,000.

Auckland property values rose 3.2 percent on QV's rolling three-month basis, and are up 9.3 percent from a year earlier, while Christchurch values advanced 2.2 percent in the quarter and were up 6.3 percent on the year.

Wellington property values increased 0.6 percent in the three months ended Nov. 30 and were 1.7 percent ahead of the same time in 2011, and Dunedin values rose 1.2 percent in the quarter and 3.7 percent on the year.

The REINZ Stratified House Price Index, which adjusts for the proportion of higher or lower-value homes sold, rose 7.3 percent from November 2011 to a record high 3,544.4.

The national median days to sell fell to 32 to 33 days in October.



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