10 Sep 2013

No sign of slowing house prices

8:01 am on 10 September 2013

Property valuer Quotable Value thinks already heated house prices should continue to rise strongly for another 15 months.

QV says prices rose 8.5% nationally in the last year, and 13.1% in Auckland alone.

The other property authority, the Real Estate Institute, is slightly less bullish, but says price rises should keep rising until the end of this year, before easing in 2014.

QV research director Jonno Ingerson says prices are still climbing.

"If you look back over the last three property cycles, values will get to the point where they are increasing by 20 to maybe 30% year on year, and at the moment they may be half way there so we've probably got a wee way to go," he says.

The Government has cracked down on tax breaks for property investors via depreciation, and the Reserve Bank has ruled buyers must come up with a bigger deposit in a bid to control house prices.

However, both QV and the Real Estate Institute think neither measure has had much effect.

The Government is also legislating to free up land for building sites, hoping to prompt a trailing construction industry to catch up with demand.

Housing Minister Nick Smith takes issue with how QV is interpreting the data, saying it has looked at house price bubbles historially and how long they take, which does not factor in the range of policy changes being introduced.

He told Morning Report the Government has a huge amount of work going on with housing affordability, with many initiatives coming into force before Christmas.

ASB economist Christina Leung predicts the Reserve Bank will begin lifting the Official Cash Rate in March next year.

She forecasts the OCR will rise to 4% by 2015, which will push mortgages past the 7% mark.