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House market rebound fails to ignite

Anne Gibson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Aug 2023, 10:34am

House market rebound fails to ignite

Anne Gibson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Aug 2023, 10:34am

The election is not firing any recovery in our depressed house sales market despite hopes the October 14 event, prices dropping and people wanting to get in quick might ramp up activity.

According to today’s Real Estate Institute data, national median house sale prices dropped 1.3 per cent from June to July, reaching $770,000 by the end of last month.

Auckland prices fell a further 1 per cent to $990,000 between the two mid-winter months.

But volumes were hardest hit, down 15 per cent nationally from June to July. Last month, only 4903 places were sold in this country.

Auckland volumes fell 15.4 per cent to just 1645 sales.

Jen Baird, REINZ chief executive, said she considered low prices and the election might have spurred people to buy or sell. But that isn’t happening.

Auckland prices have yo-yo'd around the $1m mark but fell a further 1 per cent last month. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Auckland prices have yo-yo'd around the $1m mark but fell a further 1 per cent last month. Photo / Brett Phibbs

More competitive prices and a “get in now” attitude “could bring more buyers out ahead of this year’s election”, she speculated.

But they stayed away in droves lately.

Taking a step back, prices are now well below where they were in July last year. The national median price has dropped 4.9 per cent annually from $810,000 to $770,000.

For New Zealand excluding Auckland, median prices decreased 5.4 per cent from $719,000 to $680,000 annually.

The total number of properties for sale nationally dropped 12.4 per cent annually and down 6.4 per cent from June to July.

All regions had a decrease in listings since July 2023 except for Marlborough, a notable exception with a 12.5 per cent increase in listings. Six of 15 regions have had listings decrease by more than 20 per cent year-on-year.

Baird said listings were continuing to fall.

“These listing decreases are similar to last month’s so although our salespeople are reporting further increases in activity across the country the looming election and ongoing tighter economic conditions are seeing sellers holding back,” she said.

Baird blamed a combination of factors.

“The ongoing impact of Government policies, economic conditions, and global factors will continue to shape the New Zealand housing market. We also tend to see a slowing in activity in the lead-up to a general election, but with buyer activity rising and lower levels of supply coming to market, we may see stronger demand appear in the coming months.”

The house price index stood at 3551 in July, showing a 0.7 per cent increase compared to the previous month. However, when compared to the same period last year, the HPI reflects a 6.9 per cent decline.

Last month, the Herald reported how four major banks had moved to lift their home loan rates, heaping more pressure on mortgage holders.

Westpac and ANZ announced changes to their standard and special fixed home loan rates, following moves by ASB and Kiwibank earlier this week.

Westpac’s two-year fixed standard and special rate will increase 20 basis points to 7.39 per cent and 6.79 per cent respectively, effective from tomorrow.

The bank’s standard three-year fixed rate will also rise 20bp to 7.09 per cent, while the four-year rate will be bumped 10bp to 6.89 per cent.

Lenders charged Kiwis $3.8 billion in home loan interest during the first quarter of this year, according to figures from the Reserve Bank.

The interest charged is the highest recorded since the Reserve Bank began collecting the data in 2014.

Data from credit bureau Centrix last month showed the number of Kiwis missing mortgage repayments rose for the ninth month out of the last 10.

Mortgage arrears in May rose to 1.32 per cent of the active population, up from 1.27 per cent in April, to the highest level reported since March 2020. However, back then home loan arrears were at 1.49 per cent and reached as high as 1.55 per cent in March 2017.

Around 19,500 mortgage accounts were reported as past due, up 34 per cent on a year-on-year basis, according to Centrix.

Anne Gibson has been the Herald’s property editor for 23 years, has won many awards, written books and covered property extensively here and overseas.

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