13 Oct 2016

House prices hit record high

10:56 am on 13 October 2016

The national median house price has reached a record level fuelled by rises in the regions, while the Auckland market has slowed, new Real Estate Institute figures reveal.

The national median house price hit $515,000 last month, with six regions recording records, Real Estate Institute figures show.

Auckland's median price was $825,000 - a slight fall on the month before and 7 percent higher than September last year. Outside New Zealand's biggest city the median was $400,000.

House Prices

The average house price outside of Auckland now costs $400,000. Photo: RNZ

Record high median sales prices were recorded in Northland ($390,000), Waikato/Bay of Plenty ($458,500), Taranaki ($350,000), Wellington ($480,000), Nelson/Marlborough ($450,000) and Otago ($296,000).

Two-speed housing market

REINZ director Bryan Thomson said the housing market had turned around with Auckland slowing down and the rest of the country taking off.

"The real estate market in New Zealand appears to be in something of a two-speed mode at present, with Auckland pausing for breath during a wet school holiday period and ahead of likely new spring growth."

Nationwide, the number of houses sold fell 2.5 percent compared to August and were 9.5 percent down on last year, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

But in Auckland, sales volumes were 25 percent lower than this time last year.

Mr Thomson said the Reserve Bank's tighter loan-to-value ratio (LVR) rules imposed on banks this month appeared to be changing buyer behaviour in Auckland in particular.

"We are also seeing anecdotal evidence that first home buyers in Auckland are now favouring new builds as a way of getting finance in the light of the new LVR restrictions and the 'carve out' for new home construction."

The LVR rules do not apply to borrowers wanting to buy new houses.

He said the number of houses available for sale was also tight in many regions, adding pressure to prices.

An economist said the data pointed to an overall cooling in the housing market.

"The latest round of investor-focused LVRs appears to be weighing on market activity. We expect this to continue to suppress market activity over the remainder of the year," said Kim Mundy of ASB Bank.

She said the data would probably not alter the Reserve Bank's intention to cut interest rates again next month.

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