12 Dec 2016

Auckland house prices fall 4 percent

2:00 pm on 12 December 2016

Auckland prices fell 4 percent last month, following the introduction of tighter lending rules.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Average prices for the region were at $825,000 in November, a slight drop from the record high in October.

In an attempt to ease pressure on the local property market, Auckland-specific lending restrictions were introduced on 1 October, requiring investors to have a 40 percent deposit to buy property.

The new policy was put into place following calls for the government and the Reserve Bank to take action on the Auckland housing crisis. Economist Shamubeel Eaqub had said the Reserve Bank had been complicit in creating a housing bubble.

"We have more debt in the economy relative to the size of the economy ever in history. And I think it is completely reckless and the Reserve Bank has failed in its fiduciary duty.

"And it shouldn't be allowing the banking system to lend this kind of money and we should expect the Reserve Bank to be far stricter in terms of the lending restrictions that take place in terms of mortgages."

In September Bill English told RNZ he expected the new restrictions would have some initial impact on rising prices, but he was not sure how long for.

"We've found that these tools for controlling demand can have a limited impact, but the long-term solution is just more houses on the ground, and buyers starting to believe that house prices won't keep going up because they can see more houses being built."

Early reports indicate that this may be exactly what is happening. The Real Estate Institute New Zealand (REINZ) said the underlying trend for Auckland prices continued upwards, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 13.2 percent, despite the drop in the median monthly house price.

REINZ's latest figures also showed that national median house prices have continued to rise to record breaking levels, but the pace of growth is slowing overall.

The nationwide median price for houses rose a seasonally-adjusted 13 percent to $520,000 in November, from $459,500 the year earlier, but fell 0.2 percent on October.

Ten out of 12 regions had record high median sale prices last month, except Auckland and the Central Otago Lakes.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of sales in November was little changed from October, at 7576, but down 7.5 percent on the year earlier.

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