Bad time to buy a house - survey

Confidence in the Auckland housing market is at an eight-year low.

More Aucklanders believe it's a bad time to buy a house than good, according to the latest ASB Housing Confidence Survey, released Thursday morning.

While slightly more Aucklanders believe house prices will keep rising than fall (net 9 percent), dwindling capital gains have resulted in a net 11 percent saying it's a bad time to buy.

There's a similar outlook across the country, with a net 11 percent saying it's a bad time to buy - although a net 17 percent say they expect prices to keep rising.

It's the fifth-straight quarter confidence has fallen nationwide, to a six-year low. Three months ago, expectation prices would keep rising was at a net 32 percent.

"First, loan-to-value ratio restrictions and slightly higher mortgage rates were causing most of the softness," says ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley. "But in recent months, uncertainty around the election has seen the market slow even further."

The survey comes a week after Auckland house prices fell for the first time in six years, according to the QV House Index.

"We expect house price expectations to remain muted, as respondents are likely to continue anticipating soft market conditions," says Mr Tuffley.

Oddly, while there's even less confidence house prices will keep rising in Canterbury - net 8 percent - that region was the only one where people said it was a good time to buy a house, albeit marginally - a net 1 percent.

"The combination of plenty of supply in the Christchurch market and falling house prices (from already affordable levels) appears to be boosting sentiment in the city. Outside of Christchurch, however, pessimism over whether it's a good or bad time to buy still reigns," the survey noted.

"With a number of influences impacting the housing market (including new housing policies), uncertainty around the outlook is likely keeping many respondents cautious."

There's still expectation interest rates will rise - a net 35 percent nationwide - down from 46 percent in the previous quarter.

Mr Tuffley says the bank's view is that the official cash rate is likely to remain at its record low of 1.75 percent until early 2019, mortgage rates may still rise thanks to hikes overseas.