1 May 2024

Soft house prices show it's still a buyer's market - CoreLogic

6:15 am on 1 May 2024
For sale sign generic

The national average property value was $933,633 last month, says CoreLogic. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

The national house value dropped slightly in April, with an increase in listings favouring buyers, according to the latest CoreLogic figures.

CoreLogic's House Price Index edged down 0.1 percent in April, but was still 11 percent down on peak values.

The national average property value was $933,633 last month.

CoreLogic NZ chief property economist Kelvin Davidson said the continuation of soft house price trends in April reaffirmed it was a buyer's market, leaving sellers with reduced bargaining power.

"It's no surprise price growth has flattened off," Davidson said, adding that it coincided with a rise in the total number of listings on the market.

"To be fair, buyers don't have it all their own way. For a start, they've got to have their finance in place first, and that's not easy with mortgage rates still hovering at around 7 percent.

"In addition, with new jobs still being filled and the unemployment rate relatively low for now, there aren't many 'forced sellers' out there at the moment either."

He said the outlook for the market was for an "underwhelming" upturn.

"Our expectation is that sales volumes might rise by around 10 percent this year, which is decent growth in percentage terms, but it's coming off a low base.

"Indeed, it'd still leave activity about 15-20 percent below normal."

Despite April's flat national result, the main centres continued to show some variability, which was expected to continue.

Dunedin values rose 0.7 percent in April, with Wellington and Hamilton seeing 0.4 percent growth.

But Christchurch and Tauranga each dropped 0.1 percent, while Auckland values dipped 0.6 percent.

"In this environment, I'd expect house price movements to remain a bit variable from month to month, and across regions too," Davidson said.

He said debt to income caps would also feature in the outlook, but in the meantime, conditions continued to favour first home buyers (FHBs).

"Of course, it's never easy to get that first property. But with other groups, such as mortgaged investors, still just watching and waiting to some degree, the recent strength for FHBs' market share in an environment where prices have flattened might remain a feature for much of the year."

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