Property Market

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What's happening with NZ house prices right now?

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The New Zealand property market is a living beast. Year-to-year investors and homeowners see big changes to the market.

That's true both for NZ (as a whole) and for each specific region.

While yearly round-ups are great. Many impatient property investors want to know: “How is the market behaving right now?”

In this article, you'll learn:

  • how house prices are changing,
  • what's happening with rents and
  • who's buying the houses.
  • You'll also learn what interest rates are doing.

This is all to keep you informed about what's going on in the property market.

And if you have a question, write your questions or thoughts in the comments section below.

What is the average house price in New Zealand?

This table shows the median sale price for a property in every region in New Zealand. Use the search bar to find you region. This includes data up to June 2024.

NZ Property Market Update: February 2024

How fast are property prices recovering in the New Zealand property market?

Property prices across the country are currently recovering ... in most places.

Up until recently New Zealand house prices had been falling.

House prices peaked in Nov 2021. They then fell 17.80% and appeared to bottom out in May 2023.

Since bottoming out NZ house prices have increased 1.65%. That includes REINZ house price index data through to Jun 2024.

Let's say you owned a $1 million property in Hamilton (at the peak of the market).

If it followed the NZ market perfectly, it would now be worth $836k.

That's a loss of $164k, at least on paper.

However, house prices fall at different rates around the country.

This graph shows how far prices have fallen since their peaks in different areas of the country.

House prices in South Wairarapa District have fallen fastest. Prices there are down 32.77% since house prices peaked in Dec 2021.

Wairoa District house prices peaked in Jan 2023. Property values there are down 32.48% since the peak.

The third fastest house prices falls were in Lower Hutt City. House prices are down 28.48%.

House prices in Gore District on the otherhand are down not much at all compared to the peak.

Ashburton District prices are down only 1.34% and Timaru District are a measly 1.42% down.

So your properties might have done better or worse than the national average. It all depends on where your property is.

Are properties selling above or below CV?

One of the most common questions I get asked is:“Ed, are properties selling above or below the Council Valuation (CV)?”

Some call it the RV (Rateable Value) or GV (Government Value).

Why do people care? Well, if you go on TradeMe (or another website), you’ll almost always see the council’s valuation for the property.

CV in New Zealand

So, people use this as a guide to what the property is worth.

But, sometimes, properties are selling above CV. Other times, properties are selling below CV.

That’s one reason I don’t suggest people pay too much attention to these valuations. After all, they are only updated every 3-ish years. On top of that, they’re just generated by a computer.

But people pay attention to them anyway. So here is a list of every council area, with whether properties are selling above or below CV.

66,420 properties sold in New Zealand over the last 12 months

If you want to know how the property market is going, look at the number of property sales per year.

Property sales peaked at 100,108 in Jun 2021. They then fell to just 58,763 in May 2023.

That's right, here in New Zealand we were buying 41.30% fewer properties per year compared to the peak.

Today the number of property sales has started to recover. In the 12 months to Jun 2024 we bought 66,420 properties. So we are currently buying 7,657 more properties per year compared to the bottom of the market.

New Zealand – Number of properties sold per year

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How fast will NZ house prices rise in the future?

Our standard assumption at Opes Partners is that Auckland house prices will increase 6% per year over the long term – compared with 5% for the rest of the country.

This is a slower rate than the market has experienced in the past.

Over the last 30+ years (Jan 1992 – Jun 2024) NZ house prices, excluding Auckland, increased 6.1% per year. House prices in Auckland increased 6.8% per year.

So the capital growth rates we use are ‘discounted’ by 0.8% - 1.1% percentage points.

These forecasts are roughly in line with independent economist Tony Alexander’s thoughts.

“It pays to remember that the long-term trend in prices is upward. Since 1992, on average New Zealand house prices have risen 7% per annum. I think we’re looking at 5% per annum going forward.”

To answer this question we look at where prices are higher or lower than we would expect them to be.

The blue areas are those where house prices are below where we would expect them to be. These areas are currently undervalued and will likely increase in value faster.

The red shows areas where house prices are higher than we'd expect them to be. These areas are currently overvalued and will likely increase in value more slowly.

The 3 most undervalued areas appear to be Wellington City, Auckland and Christchurch City.

The most overvalued areas are Mackenzie District, Queenstown-Lakes District and South Waikato District.

Auckland property prices appear to be 9.30% undervalued.

This suggests there is more potential for capital growth in Wellington City compared to Mackenzie District.

You can read about how we calculate this data on any of our property market pages. Like this one on the Auckland property market.

Revealed: Where are properties selling above CV?

What about higher interest rates?

All investors know – there are lots of factors that influence the surge and sag of the property market.

One of the main ones is higher interest rates.

Right now interest rates, like the prices of everything else, are high.

Why?

Low interest rates during Covid-19 lockdowns sent inflation soaring above the norm.

On top of this the labour market was tight and international supply chains disrupted.

There was too much demand and too little supply in the economy.

It overheated.

Inflation peaked at 7.3% (June 2022), well outside of the Reserve Bank's 1-3% target band.

This forced the Reserve Bank to increase the OCR in an attempt to temper the economy.

The aim of hiking interest rates is to slow the speed of spending and let the pressure out of the economy. And there's more to come.

What is the OCR (official cash rate) in NZ right now?

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Read more about our interest rate predictions here.

So, what does this mean for investors?

Sure, it’s a tough market at the moment. Interest rates are high. House prices have stopped falling – but, they're not increasing much either. But, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are pros and cons in every market.

Or said another way, there is always something working for and against you in any market.

For example, working against investors in the market currently are:

  • high interest rates, which are currently leading to poorer cash flows
  • new lending rules from the Reserve Bank through the Debt to Income Ratios (DTIs)

On the flip side, the positives are:

  • Cheaper property prices
  • The number of properties available for sale has increased 135.55% (Aug 2021 – Jun 2024). So you've got a better shot at finding a property you want.)

And remember, it is likely that over the long term property prices will increase again.

Here's how house prices have changed year on year since REINZ started tracking that data in 1992.

As you can see from the above graph, property price growth regularly rolls up and down in cycles.

There is arguably nothing new about this most recent dip.

All stable asset classes – like shares and property – tend to go through cycles. Prices boom, peak, fall, and then recover and go through a boom again.

Is now a good time to buy a house in NZ?

Now is a good time to buy a house in New Zealand. 

Property prices are much lower than they were in 2021, and it is a buyer's market. That means that property buyers have the upper hand. 

On top of this, property prices bottomed out in May 2023. We've hit the bottom of the market. 

So if you buy a house today, there is less risk that your property's value falls dramatically in the near future.  

Disagree with me? Good. Let's have a discussion. Write your questions or thoughts in the comments section below.

Opes Partners
Ed solo

Ed McKnight

Our Resident Economist, with a GradDipEcon and over five years at Opes Partners, is a trusted contributor to NZ Property Investor, Informed Investor, Stuff, Business Desk, and OneRoof.

Ed, our Resident Economist, is equipped with a GradDipEcon, a GradCertStratMgmt, BMus, and over five years of experience as Opes Partners' economist. His expertise in economics has led him to contribute articles to reputable publications like NZ Property Investor, Informed Investor, OneRoof, Stuff, and Business Desk. You might have also seen him share his insights on television programs such as The Project and Breakfast.

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