Latest Trade Me Property data shows a surge in views of properties for sale in the Queenstown Lakes district, and from people aged under 30.
It comes as prolonged border closures mean the former tourist hotspot of Queenstown now faces a challenging future, with the Queenstown Lakes District Council reporting about 9000 requests for financial assistance at the beginning of May.
Based on Trade Me property search data for April, in the first week of COVID-19 alert level 3, which took effect from April 28, listing views for properties in the Queenstown Lakes district were 130 percent higher than the same week in 2019.
In the same week, Trade Me Property experienced a surge in interest from 18-29 year-olds nationally, with the number of views of property around New Zealand from this age group up 38 percent year-on-year.
Nigel Jeffries, head of Trade Me Property, said that April's national average asking price was $706,250: 5 percent higher than in April 2019 and 31 percent higher than in April 2015. Latest online data shows that properties in the lower South Island are attracting a lot of interest.
“The three districts that have seen the largest jump in traffic on property listings are Queenstown-Lakes, South Otago, and Wanaka.
“Of these, Queenstown-Lakes saw the biggest change during the first week of level 3, with an incredible 130 per cent increase in the number of views on property in the district when compared to the same time last year.”
He said that despite there being no change in browsing activity from other age groups, coinciding with the Reserve Bank's confirmation that loan-to-value ratio (LVR) requirements would be scrapped for 12 months from May 1, there was a surge in views from the under 30's age group.
“The number of 18-29-year-olds browsing property on Trade Me skyrocketed by 38 per cent when compared to the same period last year," Jeffries said.
He said that on moving to alert level 3, the number of property listing views was above the same time last year, indicating that potential buyers were still out there.
"In the first seven days of alert level 3, we saw a 10 percent jump in the number of views on properties listed for sale than in the same week in 2019.”
However, it's still too early to tell how COVID-19 had affected house prices. Global property markets had typically shown a 'tick shape' drop and recovery.
“Although we saw property prices were strong in April while the country was in lockdown, our Property Price Index is calculated from a three month rolling average, so COVID-19’s effect on house prices will take some time to appear," Jeffries said.
"As with other recessionary times, it’s highly likely we’ll see large variances across the country in terms of how prices and time on market change.”
Auckland: average asking price holds up, listings and views drop
In Auckland, the average asking price was slightly above last year, but the number of listings and views were significantly lower.
The average asking price for the Auckland region was $959,950 in April, up 4 percent year-on-year. In Auckland city, the average asking price was $1,037,550, up 6 percent compared to April 2019.
The average asking price for Auckland city apartments was $723,100, up 2 percent year-on-year. Units and townhouses were down 2 percent, to $632,250 and $835,100 respectively.
The number of new listings for the Auckland region was down 26 percent in March and 45 percent in April compared to the same period in 2019. The number of online views was down 17 percent and 23 percent respectively.
Wellington: average asking price reaches new high, listings and views drop
In Wellington, the average asking price reached a new high of $700,200, a 7 percent increase on April 2019. As with Auckland, the number of listings and views had dropped.
Areas with the strongest growth in average asking prices year-on-year were South Wairarapa, up 24.5 percent to $631,300, Masterton, up 20.3 percent to $499,450 and Carterton, up 18.3 percent to $537,000. The average asking price for Wellington central increased by 7.1 percent year-on-year, to $817,100.
The number of new listings for the Wellington region was down 50 percent in April compared to the same period in 2019. The number of online views was down 30 percent.
Southland and Manawatu/Whanganui: highest regional growth year-on-year
The region with the strongest growth in average asking price was Southland, up 15.3 percent compared to April 2019, to $361,200.
Similarly, in Manawatu/Whanganui, the average asking price in April was up 15 percent, to $426,850.
Increase in average asking price by region
Each of the country's 15 regions had an increase in the average asking price in April, compared to April 2019. The highest increase was in Southland (15.3 percent) and the lowest increase was in Auckland (3.7 percent).
Increase in average asking price by house type
Nationwide, the highest increase in average asking price by house type was for one-to-two bedroom homes, up 11 percent to $525,150.
Across the three main cities, the highest increase in average asking price by house type was for homes of five or more bedrooms in Wellington, up 24.1 percent to $1,129,200.
Trade Me Property's April data indicates that sellers remain optimistic about property prices. However, significant drops in the number of listings and views overall indicate that COVID-19 has impacted both supply and demand. How that affects prices will become clearer in the coming months.