Winter chills home buyers as prices stall

House values nationwide are continuing to climb, driven by the regions as the Auckland market hits the brakes.

Nationwide values rose 4.8 percent over the past year but dropped 1.6 percent in the winter months, according to QV's latest House Price Index.

"The strong value growth that we were seeing in most locations this time last year has all but disappeared," general manager David Nagel told Newshub.

The average house price across the country is now $672,504, up from $669,565 in December and $627,905 at the start of 2017.

The biggest growth in terms of percentage was in Invercargill, up about 13 percent in the past 12 months and 3.3 percent in the last three, to $272,855.

Value changes over the past three months.
Value changes over the past three months. Photo credit: QV

Growth was also strong in Napier, Whanganui, Dunedin and Upper Hutt, all posting double-digit gains in the last year. Palmerston North was close behind, and registered a 2.6 percent boost in the last quarter.

Prices stalled in the country's biggest city as the first KiwiBuild homes came on the market. The average value of an Auckland property is now $1,048,956 - up 0.7 percent in 12 months, but down 0.4 percent in the last quarter, and down 0.8 percent year-on-year if you consider inflation.

"Affordability constraints continue to change buyer behaviour," said Mr Nagel. "We're seeing an increase in demand for more affordable two-bedroom semi-detached units as well as apartments, particularly in our main centres.

"With population growth projected to continue to rise, I'd anticipate these types of properties will attract even more demand in future years, particularly in Auckland and Wellington City."

Values in the capital are up 8.5 percent on this time last year, but only 0.9 percent in the last quarter, as the winter months chilled buyers.

QV Wellington senior consultant David Cornford blamed rising rents, saying it's putting pressure on tenants to enter the property market.

"This is resulting in increased buyer competition, particularly in the low-to-mid priced section of the market in areas such as the Hutt Valley and Porirua where there is a strong presence of first home buyers. This in another factor contributing to modest value increases."

Percentage shifts over the past year.
Percentage shifts over the past year. Photo credit: QV

In Christchurch values were flat or slightly down, with the average now $494,476. Further south, Dunedin values rose 10.7 percent year-on-year, but - like other centres - have struggled over winter, only rising 1.7 percent to $415,888.

"It'll be interesting to see how the market changes over spring, as we would generally anticipate a higher number of listings during this period," said QV Dunedin consultant Aidan Young.

Hamilton, which has seen double-digit rises in the past decade thanks to the overflow from Auckland, saw values rise 2.7 percent in the past year to an average of $559,190.

"The majority of sales appear to be taking place in the low-to-mid priced section of the market, from approximately $400,000-500,000," said QV Hamilton property consultant Andrew Jaques.

"This is partly due to a growing portion of first home buyers, who are taking advantage of the government KiwiSaver savings withdrawal scheme and HomeStart grant."

Tauranga saw similar numbers, up 1.6 percent to $705,383.