Auckland house prices fall for the first time in six years

For the first time in six years, Auckland property values have fallen - but only a fraction.

The latest QV House Price Index shows while across New Zealand prices have risen 3.9 percent, in Auckland they've slipped 0.6 percent.

"You've had for the first time since April 2011 that annual rate of growth in the negatives," QV spokeswoman Andrea Rush told The AM Show on Thursday.

"If you look since October last year, things are pretty stable, pretty flat. Prices are holding though - still over a million dollars, still really expensive, still getting record prices in those well-presented homes, well-located homes."

What house prices have been doing lately.
What house prices have been doing lately. Photo credit: QV

The average Auckland value is now $1.038 million, and though it appears the boom is over, that's still 90 percent above the pre-financial crisis market peak in 2007. Adjusted for inflation, prices fell 2.5 percent and are now 58.6 percent above the 2007 peak.

"Those sort of levels of growth year-on-year were not sustainable," said Ms Rush. "We're coming out of that sustained period of strong growth, and now things are stabilising, prices are holding and in some areas dropping back a little."

Ms Rush said that's down to falling investor interest, with dwindling capital gains on offer.

Price still rising elsewhere...

The party isn't over for property owners in the regions, with double-digit growth in Hastings, south Waikato, Masterton, Kawerau, Otorohanga, the Mackenzie district and south Wairarapa.

In Hamilton, prices rose 1.1 percent year-on-year, Tauranga saw a 5.4 percent increase and in Wellington, they rose 10 percent.

Housing figures.
Housing figures. Photo credit: QV
Housing figures.
Housing figures. Photo credit: QV
Housing figures.
Housing figures. Photo credit: QV

"With the continued shortage of properties available for purchase it's is a really good time to sell, with not enough stock and still lots of buyers," said QV Wellington general manager David Nagel.

In Dunedin, prices rose 12 percent.

"There are lots of first-home buyers looking and we are seeing a number of buyers feeling frustrated and even desperate after missing out on properties numerous times," said QV Dunedin property consultant Aidan Young.

Nelson saw prices rise 13.9 percent, Napier 18 percent and Hastings 19.2 percent.

... but not everywhere

The biggest falls in the Auckland market came in Waitakere and Manukau. Ms Rush says many greenfield developers are having to drop their prices to get sales, particularly in Flatbush.

"Sections that were selling for $770,000 are now down to the early 600s - but that's a lot of money."

Grey District and Christchurch experienced the biggest drops elsehwere, with prices falling 2 percent in the former and 1.6 percent in the latter.

"It's been quiet with not a lot of activity, and we haven't seen the usual spring upturn in the market as yet," said QV Christchurch senior consultant Daryl Taggart.

"There is more than enough supply of new homes on the market and it's become harder to find buyers for them.

Little fear of a collapse

Labour has promised to build 100,000 affordable homes over the next decade, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern insisting the scheme might cause a "cooling", but not a collapse.

"We are bringing on-stream a section of the housing market that is undersupplied, and we don't expect to see a dramatic drop in people's housing values," she told The Nation in October.

Infometrics shares this view.

"Adjustments to foreign buyer rules under the new Labour Government will cement the housing market's downturn but will not lead to significant additional price falls," it said in a statement.

"Australian buyers will still be allowed to purchase property, just like we can in Australia. And other foreign purchasing of property has already slowed down due the retail banks' refusal to approve mortgage lending based on overseas incomes.

"The persistent slowdown in price growth is also causing foreign buyers to lower their expectations of future capital gains, discouraging investment."

Infometrics is predicting a "correction" will see values nationwide fall over the next three years, following six of double-digit growth most analysts saw as unsustainable.