Timing the market: Is now the best time to buy a house or should you wait for prices to drop further? An expert weighs in

As house prices fall many would-be homeowners will be watching closely hoping to get on the property ladder just before they start to rise again. 

House prices have steadily been dropping since they peaked in January this year at a whopping $1,063,765, according to QV. 

Now just nine months later average house prices are sitting at $973,848. As prices dropped some would-be homeowners held back to try and buy when they hit their lowest point. 

But recent data shows many first-home buyers are not tentatively reentering the market. CoreLogic NZ's latest Buyer Classification data for August shows first home buyers made up 25 percent of the property purchased - the highest rate since December 2021. 

CoreLogic chief property economist Kelvin Davidson said buyers who were holding back are starting to reenter. But is that the right call or is it worth holding out to see if prices drop further? 

Spokesperson for realestate.co.nz Vanessa Williams told Newshub the best time to buy is when you can. Williams warned trying to time the market to buy at the lowest possible point is often a fool's game.

She said the market is so variable, buying as soon as you can is always the best way to go. 

"I never recommend anyone buys based on the market. The market can change so quickly. It could be an interest rate change, it could be legislative changes, it could be spring, winter or summer. 

"You never know when the peak ends and you never know when the bottom is until hindsight happens," Williams told Newshub. 

It comes as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is expected to hike the Official Cash Rate (OCR) for the eighth time in a year to dampen inflation. 

Aotearoa is currently facing inflation of 7.3 percent - well above the target range of one to three percent. 

The RBNZ will reveal whether it changes the OCR this week and experts predict another hike. The OCR is currently sitting at 3 percent with ANZ predicting it will peak at 4.75 percent in the middle of next year. 

Williams said interest rates are another reason it might not make sense to take a wait-and-see approach. 

"My advice to anyone who's looking, and particularly first-time buyers, is buy when you can and when it makes the most sense for you in your financial position because there are a lot of things to take into account. 

"We've got another interest rate announcement happening this week, how is that going to affect you and your family? What is your ability to borrow credit? How are your jobs looking? All of those are more solid for you to make a decision based on rather than what the market is doing."

She added she's yet to meet someone who bought a house 10 years ago and regrets it. 

"If it makes financial sense for you and your family - buy a house today because the best time to buy a house was 10 years ago and the second best time to buy a house is today."

Williams added in many ways it's a great time for buyers because they can take their time and make sure they're making the right decision. 

"Now is a great time to buy as the market has slowed down. Where you can get yourself into a challenge is if you're trying to buy a property in a very frantic market, sometimes you have to make quick decisions and sometimes you might not necessarily have done all of your due diligence or you might be buying a little bit more with your heart. 

"Whereas, when you're in a market today where it is slower, you've got more time to consider your options, you've got more time to do your due diligence. Now, in terms of the pace of the market, it is a good time to buy."

Plus Williams had good news for Kiwis who bought at the very peak of the market - it's incredibly unlikely you will lose money if you're playing the long game. 

"When we're talking about this cooling…If you actually look at what you paid for it originally, have you lost money on that original sale price? There will be a very small subset of New Zealanders who purchased in January that will need to sell at the moment that is going to be such a small, small percentage and yes, that 7 percent drop will be impacting those specific people.

"But most people buy properties for the long term and if you actually look at 'have I lost any money from the day that I purchased my home, I would say about 99 percent of New Zealanders are not losing on the price they paid for their property."

Ultimately Williams said most people are buying their house so they can have a home and there's no point in getting caught up stressing over every tiny change in the market. 

"We can sometimes get caught up in is it down or is it up or is it down? Actually, you've got to look at your own circumstance and go, 'This makes financial sense for me and my family and I'm going to do it'. 

"I think the more people who own their own home and go into their own home, I think that's such a positive thing for New Zealand that I love that its part of our culture."