Market lull offers new hope for first-home buyers

Sales of properties valued $1 million and above are up 22 percent on last year (file)
Sales of properties valued $1 million and above are up 22 percent on last year (file)

There's new signs of hope for first-home buyers, with investors bailing out of the lower end of the property market and more homes coming up for sale.

Together, they've created a lull in the market, giving first-home buyers a shot at getting on the ladder, says the Real Estate Institute.

"During the spring, you've seen a late flush of listings come on the market right across New Zealand," spokesman Bryan Thompson told Paul Henry on Thursday.

"After suffering for a number of years through lack of choice on the market for buyers and intense competition for that lower level of stock, we're now seeing a situation where there's more choice."

Sellers traditionally like to take advantage of the better weather to list properties, and this year's rush still lags behind last year's - there were 24 percent fewer properties up for grabs in October 2016 than the same month last year.

But this year there's the added dampener of the Reserve Bank's loan-to-value restrictions and the bright-line rule, which makes investors pay tax on properties they buy and sell within a two-year timeframe.

Auckland's ever-growing median price - up 16 percent in the last year - also fails to tell the full story of the city's housing market. Sales of properties valued $1 million and above are up 22 percent on last year, while across all price brackets, sales in Auckland are down 14 percent.

Mr Thompson says it's defies instincts to go against the grain, but that's exactly what would-be homeowners should be doing at a time like this.

"Human beings are herd creatures - they like to do what everyone else is doing. The real risk for people is they say 'hey, others aren't buying - we shouldn't buy.'"

The lull isn't likely to last, but whether a crash is coming, or another boom, Mr Thompson says it's impossible to tell.

"People who make predictions about any market, but particularly the property market, have a long history of being wrong and looking foolish.

"Don't try and guess what's going to happen in December or in January or in March next year - I can tell you right now there are a lot of very clever people around who wish they'd made better decisions in the past."