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Where are we going?

Wednesday, 4 July 2018


As capital growth in the residential property market has continued to diminish and articles hypothesise what of a proper downturn, we yearn for more solid information to understand where the property market is heading next. Here in the CoreLogic Research team, we’ve been doing some work on forming a sales volume prediction model to provide a guide for future market activity. The inputs to the model we tested, ranged from GDP to unemployment, to interest rates, wages and migration.
And the results are actually pretty good. Not perfect, granted, but pretty good.
The good thing is that where the predicted model diverges from actual sales, it’s generally explainable. The single biggest occasion is in 2012, which happens to be following the Christchurch Earthquake and is also the early part of the most recent growth phase in Auckland. My feeling on why the model missed the increased turnover in Auckland is that it’s because the exceptional lift in sales volumes at this time was heavily credit driven (not interest rate driven) which we didn’t, and couldn’t capture.
The model also misses the significance of the most recent slowdown, since 2016. Again this has been impacted by credit policy (outside of interest rates) and also the stricter LVR limits implemented at the end of 2016.
Understanding the blind spots of the model is crucial to being able to apply some form of manual adjustment to the final projections, based on all the other market influencers we’re aware of.  
First though, the actual model results.
Based on forecasts by RBNZ and MBIE regarding the outlook for GDP growth and interest rates being stable, wage growth anticipated to improve slowly and migration to drop slowly, we get to a rather unglorified prediction of sales volumes staying at about the same rate they’re currently at. Super boring, when we know extreme opinions sell, but that’s what the model tells us.
The end result? Roughly 83,500 sales this year and 82,500 next. For context this is down from 85,000 in 2017 and 106,000 sales in 2016.
But now we apply our ‘adjustments’, or alternative scenarios.The overwhelming potential pressure here is downwards, with a number of measures reducing demand, either intentionally or otherwise. 
We have:
  • The foreign buyer ‘ban’,
  • Healthy homes guarantee act, 
  • Ring-fencing of tax-losses, 
  • LVR limits, 
  • The extension of the Bright-line test,
  • And maybe even debt-to-income ratios at some stage.
There are a few things which may increase demand, including the possibility of shared equity schemes to help first home buyers and even the potential relaxation of the LVR limits, but it’s unlikely these will do enough to counter the downward impact of those listed earlier.
So with so much downward pressure, the question moves to whether we could see a more significant drop in sales volumes (and consequently values). But the good news for those in the industry is that a lack of supply, still high migration (despite it reducing), still historically low interest rates and an ingrained mentality of property investment being the best, all provide a very solid floor underneath the market (both volume and value wise).
We can hypothesise different scenarios though. For example, we estimate that a gradual lift of 1%-point in mortgage interest rates by the end of next year could see a further reduction in volumes of roughly 7,000 – to 75,000 in 2019. This would be lower than anything we’ve seen in the past 20-odd years, and then probably be accompanied by further intervention to push things the other direction (or at least hold things up). 
In the end, the reality is that almost every day there’s a new announcement or piece of information which could influence the property market, and a lot of people have a stake. Having solid data to help us sift through the conjecture and potential bias is crucial, and our sales projection model (version 1) provides a great head-start.

Author: Nick Goodall | Head of Research, CoreLogic NZ


According to the June QV House Price Index, utilising data and methodology from CoreLogic, none of the main centres saw growth in values of more than 0.5% since May’s index.
Values in Dunedin, where growth has consistently been very strong compared to the other main centres, even saw a significant reduction in growth, with the change from May only +0.3%. 
Three of the six main centres saw very minor value drops in the June results, with the Auckland, Tauranga and Christchurch indices all dropping 0.1%. Values in Christchurch remain 0.3% below the same time last year.
Wellington City values bounced back according to June results – up 0.4%, after dropping 0.9% at the end of May. Values remain 1.3% lower than they were at the end of March however, as reduced demand and credit unavailability hinders the amount buyers can pay in a city where the average value hovers above the $750,000 mark.
This market weakness appears to be spreading to the Hutt too, with values in Lower Hutt only increasing 0.6% since the end of March. For now, Upper Hutt is still seeing more considerable growth, 1.9% over the same period, however this is well down on the 3.5% rate at the end of April 2018.
Meanwhile the highest annual rates of growth remain in many of the regional markets, however these rates of growth continue to slow and the outlook appears to be uncertain. CoreLogic head of research Nick Goodall said, “Further investigation into the regional composition of overseas migration into NZ reveals that provincial centres seem to suffer disproportionate outflows when overall net migration losses from NZ are high. With net migration tipped to continue to fall, including the balance with Australia, the provinces may feel this more acutely as fewer people arrive and more people leave the regions.”
Across the other Main Urban Areas, Napier retains top spot, with the greatest annual growth – although this has dropped for the second consecutive month, down to 15.7% at the end of June, compared to 17.6% at the end of April. Nearby Hastings has seen a similar slowdown (from 12.5% at the end of April to 8.5% at the end of June).
With consistently strong annual growth, exceeding 15% for the last two years, and an average value exceeding $510,000 now, unaffordability will be starting to have an impact on the region’s property values, especially with credit remaining tight. 
Only four of the twelve main urban areas (outside the largest six cities) saw annual growth increase in the June figures.
Whanganui was one of those, with annual growth hitting 12.6% in the year to the end of June 2018. The lower average value of property here remains an attraction for owner occupiers and investors alike. 
The other three areas with a similarly lower value profile, were Invercargill, Palmerston North and Rotorua all of which saw a lift in annual value growth from May to June. Gisborne was the only city which recorded an average value lower than any of these areas, and annual growth slowed from 10.1% to 8.9% over the month of June. 
New Plymouth remains an area of interest, as anecdotal reports of local discontent increase in response to the Government announcement of no new oil and gas exploration permits being granted. Values in New Plymouth continued to gradually grow, with the average hitting $450k at the end of June, however the future is more uncertain. Mr Goodall said this is especially true when considering the regionally supported dairy industry which also faces a challenge in retaining the kiwi ‘100% pure’ branding in the face of the mycoplasma bovis infection. 
He said, “Overall, the New Zealand property market continues to be constrained by tighter lending criteria, despite short term interest rates remaining low. 
“The banks continue to be very competitive when it comes to the shorter term interest rates, but with market activity still weak, they’re clearly keeping criteria quite strict.”
Market activity, as defined by valuations ordered by the banks to support loans, ended the month 10% below the same month last year. This measure acts as a very good predictor for sales volumes and indicates another slow month of sales volumes is likely to be reported over the coming weeks and flowing into July.
Mr Goodall said, “Looking longer term we’re predicting a fairly uneventful six-to-eight quarters of sales volumes, mostly tracking sideways from the four quarters.”
“This is due to a period of relatively benign movement in the factors that typically influence demand. Both GDP and wages are forecast to grow steadily, and mortgage interest rates are likely to remain low.”
Migration in New Zealand is forecast to reduce, which would further reduce property demand but not at the same rate as previously thought, as demand for skilled labour remains high. This is especially the case with the KiwiBuild targets and the recent announcement of the “KiwiBuild Skills Shortage List”, designed to provide an expedited process to fill specific roles which will further slowdown that proposed migration drop.
In summing up, Mr Goodall said “There’s no doubt we’ve gone past the peak growth phase of the most recent property cycle. The question now turns to how long the lull will last and whether it will be more than a lull. Given we’ve seen no discernable change in investor behavior, any improvement to supply will be a long term game (even taking into account current record building consents) and mortgage interest rates are set to remain low we think any drop will be shallow for now.”
When house hunting each person has a list of their essentials. Is there attic storage? What sort of access is there? Good natural light? An easterly wind? All considerations for new home buyers with a healthy market to shop in. Try as you may, curating a list that ticks everything is near impossible and upon living in your home you will discover features you can’t fathom ever having wanted (who ever thought the morning sun in the master bedroom would be delightful?). Once you’re in your new space, your home then becomes an entirely new project all together. While you were busy ticking the boxes, you overlook areas that need your attention - like your shopping list! Although you’ve got all the major pieces sorted, here are three essentials that go under the radar and make a big impact.
Simple right? Yes, this might seem obvious, your large linen cupboard and built in wardrobes were a huge selling feature for you so of course you’ve accounted for storage. This however extends to every part of your home. A storage solution for your spices, a dish caddy, your remote controls, stop me any time! Do your best to cover off as much as possible, otherwise you’ll end up with a coffee table covered in miscellaneous items, or a pantry hiding half your ingredients. The linen cupboard is obvious but a toothbrush holder may not be. Think about what you’re using in each room and how often, that will give you some insight into what might need a more accessible storage solution and what can live comfortably in a cupboard.
Window Coverings
With Winter looming, it is important to ensure you’re on your way to installing these once you move in. Window coverings act as both a privacy screen and a way to retain heat - keeping that power bill as low as possible in the cooler months. Outside of the obvious, window trimmings, whether blinds or curtains also extend your sleep in, keeping the light out and are an important tool for security. Keep in mind, many made to order coverings can take unto 4-6 weeks to be produced, be sure to factor in this timeline when planning the move if you’re after something more custom for your home.
Kitchen Gadgets
Now I don’t mean a frypan, or knives and forks, I’m fairly confident you have that covered. I’m here to reiterate the importance of kitchen items like the humble can opener. I’m talking about the items you scan over while shopping, as ones you’ll likely ‘never need’ because our products have evolved past them and therefore you leave them behind. I guarantee you, this will be the one thing you need when your dinner guests have arrived and you snap the pull tag on your can of coconut cream for your chicken curry (trust me - been there!).

Rosalie Molloy

Creative Director

The latest QV House Price index is out and it appears that the Capital’s dream real estate run may be feeling the freeze as much as its residents currently are.
Housing market conditions in Wellington appear to have taken a sharp monthly downturn, with residential values falling 1.3% in May and the average residential property value now sitting at $633,759. The statistics tell a very different story to the anecdotal reports of strong market performance, which just goes to show: when it comes to real estate, there’s no arguing with the data, however much you don’t want to believe it. 
It’s the drop in Wellington City itself that’s letting the team down; in fact the 1.3% drop in May is almost entirely due to weak city performance. Suburban real estate performance further out is working hard to offset broader declines. Upper Hutt for example is having an absolute blinder, with 2.9% value growth over the last three months alone. Second place goes to Lower Hutt at 1.4%, ahead of Porirua at 0.9%
When you delve further into the types of properties being impacted in Wellington’s sharp downturn, it’s those at the upper tier of the market (over $850,000) that are being hardest hit. Annual growth in this value range has been limited to just 0.7% over the last 12 months. Compare that to the mid-range market ($650,000 - $850,000) which presented a much stronger 7.1% value growth over the same period. Even properties at the lower end of the market (below $650,000) have performed better than the top tier – albeit with relatively restrained annual growth of 2.5%. 
Head of Research Nick Goodall comments: “While we’re always cautious to read too much into a one month ‘trend’ the turnaround in Wellington City is quite sharp and given there’s supporting evidence of prolonged weakness at the upper tier of the market the softness is more likely to continue through winter. It also brings Wellington in to line with many of the other main centres, in terms of experiencing minimal growth, and given Bank’s prudent mortgage lending standards are nationwide this is not all together that surprising”.
Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, you can get more info on current property market conditions here