Stalemate in Auckland property market

It looks like Auckland real estate  is facing a stalemate, with potential sellers reluctant to list their property because there’s little on the market  to buy. It’s the ultimate chicken and egg situation that’s a repeat of this time last year.

And given the recent escalation of prices, home owners have not  been inclined to sell before they’ve bought in case they are left out in the cold.

Listen to the podcast for more


According to Barfoot and Thompson, sales data for December left a confusing picture for the industry.

Average sales price for the month were $869,492 down 0.8 percent on November’s record average price — while the median price rose to an all-time high of $800,000, up 0.6 percent on November.

December sales at the firm stood at 796, that’s a whopping  19.3 percent lower than in November – when frantic October sales were finalised.

Looking at the current picture, the firm’s Peter Thompson says the factor most likely to impact on sales is what he calls the extremely low number of listings.

In December that  stood at just 2431 at the firm — down 25.2 percent on November, and a 20-year low for Barfoot and Thompson.
Thompson predicts that with a growing population, due to high immigration arrivals,  and the number of new builds failing to keep pace with demand, competition for properties is likely to remain strong — at least for the first quarter of 2016.

Unsurprisingly, he says with so few properties on the market, now is a good time to list.

A report by ANZ bank economists predicts the official cash rate — currently sitting at 2.5% —  will  remain unchanged this year. This is contrary to the view of economists employed at Westpak who – citing low inflation – expect the rate to be cut to 2% during the  year.
Inflation is currently below one percent, while the target is 2 per cent.

ANZ says improving economic momentum will eventually flow through into a gradual lift in domestic inflation over the course of the year. Westpac clearly disagrees.
Geoff Barnett, national manager of Century 21 real estate predicts the market will be relatively strong this year due to increased demand for housing in the regions, low interest rates and “Auckland’s relentless population growth”.

However, he says a more realistic market is starting to take shape in Auckland. Most likely due in part to foreign buyers still navigating government-imposed hurdles.

Barnett says: “We’re seeing auction clearance numbers generally falling, average selling times lengthening, and median house prices not rising as steeply — particularly in Auckland.”

This was always inevitable, he says, adding that the market now is a lot more realistic and sustainable.

“Rest assured,” he says in a press release. “Auckland will keep trucking along and it is not surprising that the market eased back in the last quarter of 2015 as overseas buyers were hit with the new IRD and Reserve Bank restrictions aimed at slowing down foreign investors.”

Barnett says the picture for 2016 will include more sales of apartments as they offer a more affordable entry point. And let’s face it, developers can’t build them fast enough.
Looking at the wider picture, according to data from Realestate.co.nz Central Otago has joined Auckland as one of only two regions in the country where average asking prices are  more than $800,000.  In December the average asking price in Central Otago was $824,394.

Waikato also saw  average asking prices in December of $414,596, up just a hair on November’s  $413,067. In Canterbury, the average asking price has fallen  5.5% to $450,740.

Realestate.co.nz’s Vanessa Taylor says the national average asking price in December was $522,930, continuing a downward trend from August’s $568,215.

And the total number of new listings across the country in December was 8,011, down 3.3% when compared to December 2014.

Taylor says national inventory of property for sale continues to remain near record lows.
Meanwhile, the stockmarket in China is heading south with economic data and equity markets there   giving shareholders plenty to worry about.

One wonders what impact this will have on those hoping to cash up their shares to buy property in New Zealand. They are facing a triple whammy of lower share values, tougher monetary controls, and red tape in New Zealand.