Falling confidence Auckland house prices will keep going up

After years of skyrocketing house prices in the country's biggest city, the inevitable market correction appears to be on the horizon.

The latest ASB Housing confidence survey has found only a small majority - a net 15 percent - of Aucklanders expect prices to lift in the next year. That's the lowest result in eight years, and ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley expects confidence to decline further.

"Given that market conditions are likely to remain soft over the next few quarters, we anticipate a greater drop in house price expectations in next quarter's survey."

Most respondents to the survey think it's a bad time to buy (net 13 percent), perhaps because for the first time in seven years, prices appear to be heading downwards.

"Prices have actually come down a couple of percent so far this year," Mr Tuffley told The AM Show. "The last time we saw any sustained falls was 2010, when the post-global financial crisis bounce ran out of steam briefly. So yes, prices are going down."

He says it's been a long time coming, with sales turnover dropping over the last year. He says the Reserve Bank's loan-to-value restrictions (LVRs) have played a big part - particularly reducing the amount investors are allowed to borrow.

"We certainly think the second round of LVRs has kicked things up a gear. The 40 percent investor threshold is making it much harder for some people to buy."

But don't expect a collapse - he says Auckland is still only building about half the new houses it needs to match population growth.

"When we step back and take a look at the big picture, it's still one of very strong demand and limited supply. Ultimately that means upward pressure on prices will continue, just not to the same degree we've seen."

New Zealand has the most unaffordable housing in the world, according to The Economist. Average prices in Auckland are around $1 million.