Finally good news if you are planning on buying a property as Auckland house prices continued to fall.

Auckland’s market cooldown continued in February with another fall in median house prices but regional markets remained steady, new REINZ data shows.

Once seasonally adjusted, the Super City’s median house price fell by 1.7% to $800,000 in February, as compared to $805,000 in January.

It is the fourth month in a row that the median house price has dropped – although, once seasonally adjusted, the median house price still saw year-on-year growth of 11%.

At the same time, on a seasonally adjusted basis, Auckland sales volumes were 8.9% lower in February than in the same period last year.

Supply of houses has increased by 20% over the past year and there has been a sharp rise over the past three months.

Around the rest of the country, the REINZ data returned a mixed bag of results.

Central Otago Lakes (up 30%), Northland (up 20%) and Otago (up 18%) all saw strong year-on-year price growth, with both Northland and Otago hit new record high median sale prices in February 2017.

Meanwhile, February saw a 45% increase in sales volumes as compared to January – but, on a seasonally adjusted basis, February sales fell 8.9% on February 2016.

REINZ CEO Bindi Norwell said they are seeing a mixed picture across New Zealand and in Auckland.

Although there are more houses on the market and median prices are rising on a seasonally adjusted basis year-on- year, sales volumes were down in February, she said.

“We hear anecdotally that Loan to Values are having an effect and banks are reducing lending, becoming more selective about who they lend to, what properties they will lend on and the terms.

“Recent media has noted the lower level of cash incentives being offered by banks, and this ties in with the feedback agents across the country are hearing from their clients.”

For Westpac acting chief economist Michael Gordon the REINZ data suggests that the housing market steadied in February after a particularly weak January.

He said that, in seasonally adjusted terms, sales were close to flat while the stratified price index rose slightly.

While the Auckland price index rose by 5%, confirming that the 6% drop last month was a rogue print, prices in Auckland have effectively stalled since the middle of last year, he said.

“Combined with falling sales and rising inventories of unsold homes, there is a strong sense now that the Auckland market has peaked.”

Mortgage rates have been heading higher since November, ending a steady downward trend over the previous couple of years, Gordon added.

“Our view remains that higher borrowing costs will have a more meaningful, and sustained, impact on house prices than the temporary effects of lending restrictions.”


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