Buying a Home

When buying a property, as well as finding something that will suit your lifestyle, there are a lot of other factors that you will need to check. Check out our handy checklist – perfect for open homes, by checking out the points below, you may save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

 

House Hunting Checklist

  • Noise – anything loud or annoying that may affect your ability to live comfortably in the house. This could be anything from airports or motorways close by, to noisy neighbours.
  • Sun – Sun can play a big part in heating your house. Look for where the sun hits at certain points throughout the day. You may prefer morning sun through the main bedroom but afternoon soon through the living room for example. Think about how much sun the house will get in winter as well as summer.
  • Insulation – as much as sun can heat the house you need to make sure the house has adequate insulation through the walls and roof. This can also be aided by double glazing of the windows. Without it, in winter especially, you may end up with a very cold house or high power bills.
  • Water or damp issues – Look out for any areas of dampness throughout the house and any areas that may be letting water through. You may also need to look out for any issues that could point to the property being a leaky home.
  • Significant damage or cracks – some damage might be superficial, in that it would just cost to fix the visible issue. But some damage or cracks may be pointing to more serious issues, like the floor not being level.
  • Electrics – do the electrical fittings look modern? You may need to look at getting older fittings replaced.
  • Water pressure – check the taps and showers to see if the water pressure is as expected.
  • Windows and doors – do they open easily? Are they well sealed? If not, this might be fairly easy to fix or could be an unnecessary headache.

One thing you may also want to determine is why the current owner is selling. This may be something simple like they want to upsize with a growing family, but it may also point to something more sinister like problems with the house or neighbourhood.

Other things to consider

  • Transport links – do you need to be able to access public transport regularly to say commute into the city for work?
  • Schooling – If you’re bringing up a family buying within the zones for certain schools can be very important. It is also a good selling point even if you don’t need a school yourself.
  • Amenities – Being close to shops, supermarkets and parks can be more convenient and practical.
  • Safety of neighbourhood – is the neighbourhood safe? This can be especially relevant information if bringing up children.
  • Proximity to your friends and family or to work – for some this might not matter but others may like being near to people they know and trust. Also, being close to your work may reduce the length of your commute, leaving you more time at home.
  • Parking – is there sufficient parking for you and any visitors?

Weighing up properties

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to find, or afford, a property that has absolutely everything you’d like. Try to agree the things you need to have and the things you’d like to have. You might decide you need 3 bedrooms and a garage but on top of that you’d like a 4th bedrooms and a large section.

You’ll probably have to compromise on some things with the property you buy but the right one should ideally have all of your needs and a good amount of the extras.


Latest News & Articles

Lending restrictions have taken heat out of the market but recent drops in Hamilton and Auckland appear to have begun to turnaround again. Watch the video to find out more.

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Jonno Ingerson, Head of Research, CoreLogic NZ Ltd
 
I’m surprised.
 
I’m surprised because the latest monthly QV house price index shows Auckland values rebounding ever so slightly. After peaking in November at an average value of $1,051,387 they then dropped 0.7% over the next three months to $1,043,680 last month. I expected that gentle decline to continue, instead values bounced back fractionally.
 
 
Why am I surprised? I have been talking about how any decline is likely to be shallow and short-lived thanks to continuing low interest rates, a desire of investors to keep investing, and high net migration keeping pressure on the growing under-supply of housing in Auckland.
 
I am surprised because other measures of activity in the Auckland market have dramatically slowed over the past couple of months.
 
Our measure of buyer demand has been very weak ever since the RBNZ’s announcement of more lending restrictions hit the streets last July.
 
That low buyer demand translates into fewer sales, and in February the number of sales in Auckland was the lowest for any February since 1993! Lower than in the years following the GFC in 2008 – 2010.
 
Lower sales activity is almost always joined by values slowing considerably or even dropping.
 
Then there is the growing number of listings. While new listings in Auckland have been at about normal seasonal levels, the low number of sales in recent months has meant that the total number of properties for sale in Auckland has grown to the highest level for three years. More choice for buyers also tends to mean less upward price pressure.
 
Furthermore our buyer classification data has shown a dramatic drop in first home buyer activity in Auckland. First home buyers usually pay a premium over other buyers as they fight hard to secure a property they love. Fewer first home buyers, along with the cash investors who remain in the market and tend to pay under the odds, should be causing prices to fall if the market was following the rules.
 
Adding to the strain, some of the bigger banks have also tightened their lending criteria far beyond what the RBNZ is requiring of them, making mortgages much harder to get for many buyers.
 
I had also expected that buyers would be starting to sit back and wait a bit – what with autumn now upon us and the heated policy debate around housing and migration ahead of the spring General Election.
 
But despite all those things that I thought would have caused Auckland values to keep sliding, they have instead held firm. I was confused and I live and breathe property. 
 
This needed a bit more digging.
 
I was probably premature in suggesting that the impending election will give home buyers and home owners the jitters. I still think that will happen, but probably only once the election campaigns really ramp up in a few months. We will be into winter by then, which is typically a quiet time anyway.
 
There are also different patterns emerging across Auckland. The most recent data has seen North Shore and old Auckland City bounce back up, while Manukau and Waitakere continue to slide. Meanwhile, the fringe areas - Rodney, Papakura and Franklin - have just slowed their rate of increase rather than showing any sign of dropping.
 
Manukau and Waitakere have tended to be stronger first home buyer areas, so with those buyers less active declines in those areas are therefore not unexpected.
 
North Shore and Auckland City, especially at the mid-range of $800k to $1.5m, have shown more resilience than the top and bottom ends of the market. Likely the buyers active in these markets are less impacted by lending restrictions.
 
Across the rest of the country, the lending restrictions have not hit as hard as they have in Auckland.
 
Values in Hamilton had fallen 3% since late last year, but like Auckland, that decline has halted. Part of that initial decline will have been due to a reduction in the number of Aucklanders investing in Hamilton. That had reached a peak of 17% of all sales in the city in late 2015 but with increasing values in Hamilton making the investment equation less attractive, plus added difficulty in securing mortgage funding, that proportion of Auckland investors has fallen back to 11% of all sales.
 
Tauranga went from rapidly increasing values last year to being flat for the first couple of months of this year, and has now begun to creep back up again. Again there is a high percentage of Aucklanders purchasing in Tauranga, some for investment, but more for moving there. That has not eased, but the ready supply of money for those Aucklanders will have slowed a little.
 
Christchurch dipped in the latest month but it is too soon to tell if that means anything. The market there is more finely balanced than the other main cities following a period of strong value growth after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. A reduction in demand and mortgage credit may well lead to slowly dropping values in Christchurch in coming months.
 
Wellington and Dunedin are still increasing, just ever so slightly slower than previously. Wellington is experiencing a housing shortage, both for owner occupiers and renters. First home buyers are also very active in the more affordable fringe areas.
All this begs the question as to whether the Reserve Bank’s lending restrictions have either not worked, or have worn off already.
 
Bear in mind that the Reserve Bank is not specifically trying to lower house prices. They are trying to protect the banks and the wider economy against any potential significant correction in house prices. Making sure that borrowers have larger deposits, and that lending is more prudent are two ways of achieving that. The Reserve Bank’s own stats show that lending to investors has dropped by 35% since the introduction of the restrictions. Job done there.
 
As for house prices dropping? Well there may be a more lasting impact in Waitakere and Manukau, but elsewhere it looks like we are back to increases. At least for the time being.
 
As the Reserve Bank said just prior to announcing the restrictions, slowing down the housing market would take a combination of things including increasing interest rates, lower migration, looking at tax treatment for investors, but the biggest influence would be  massively increasing housing supply. Other than interest rates, those are not things that the RBNZ can directly influence. Furthermore, none of them have materially changed.
 
Consequently, the strongest forces that have been pushing up house prices are left to do their job. Yes demand has been reduced, and yes supply is up a little. But not enough. Interest rates, while they have risen slightly, are still low enough to not cause pain. Ultimately we have too many people for the number of houses, and until that is resolved it is difficult to see values dropping.
 
Should I really be surprised then that values haven’t continued to drop? Perhaps not.
 
 

 

The latest monthly QV House Price Index shows that nationwide residential property values for March increased 12.9% over the past year. Values rose by 0.6% over the past three months and the average value nationwide is $631,432. The nationwide average value is now 52.4% above the previous market peak of late 2007. When adjusted for inflation the nationwide annual increase drops slightly to 11.4% and values are now 28.5% above the 2007 peak.
 
Residential property values across the Auckland region increased 12.3% year on year and quarterly growth has decreased by 0.2% over the past three months. The average value for the Auckland Region is now $1,045,362 and values are now on average 91.3% higher than the previous peak of 2007.  When adjusted for inflation values rose 10.8% over the past year and are 61.2% above the 2007 peak.
 
The full set of QV House Price Index statistics for all New Zealand for March can be downloaded by clicking this link: QV House Price Index (HPI) for March 2017
 
 
QV National Spokesperson Andrea Rush said, “The Wellington region continues to see some of the strongest value growth of any area in New Zealand, particularly in more affordable areas outside the central city such as Porirua and the Hutt Valley.”
 
“Values also continue to rise steadily in Dunedin which remains New Zealand’s most affordable city and Tauranga values have slowed to quarterly growth of just 0.6%.”
 
“Meanwhile, values in parts of Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch are still seeing a slight downward trend, but values are stabilising and continuing to rise in other parts of these main centres as well.”
 
“This means the downward trend and dampening in these markets seen since the latest round of LVR restriction may be shallower than expected.”
 
“It’s possible we may see values start to rise in these main centres in coming months given that the market is still being driven by a high number of sales to investors, record high net migration, relatively low interest rates, a lack of supply and fewer taxes on property investment than many other countries.”
 
Auckland
While the overall figure for the Auckland region has decreased slightly by 0.2% over the past three months, home values in some areas have now stabilised and are continuing to rise in some areas of Auckland.
 
The former Auckland City Council central suburbs rose 12.5% over the past year and 0.9% over the past three months and values are now 97.5% above the previous peak of 2007. The average value in the central suburbs is now $1,229,715. Waitakere City values rose by 12.1% year on year but decreased slightly by 1.4% over the past three months. They are now 95.5% above the previous peak of 2007. Values in the former Manukau city area rose 12.6% year on year but decreased slightly by 0.5% over the past quarter. The average value in the southern suburbs is now $900,324. Values in the former North Shore City suburbs also rose 11.5% year on year but decreased 1.4% over the past three months. The average value across the bridge is now $1,201,367.
 
Rodney values continue to rise up 13.3% year on year and 1.2% over the past three months and the average value is $940,701. Franklin is also up 13.1% year on year and 1.1% over the past quarter. Papakura values also increased 12.6% year on year and 1.2% over the past three months.
 
QV Auckland homevalue Manager, James Steele said, “Sales volumes are down on what they were this time last year as the LVR restrictions continue to dampen parts of the market.”
 
“However, the top end of the market where cash buyers are not affected by the LVRs continues to see strong value growth with the upmarket suburbs selling more readily and are seeing stronger value growth than those in cheaper parts of Auckland such as the city’s southern and western outskirts.”
 
“This is leading to higher value areas seeing property values continuing to rise in desirable areas with larger homes in central suburbs such as Remuera and Mission Bay.”
 
“Also Waitakere’s upmarket suburbs such as Titirangi and Parau that offer larger homes and sections for relatively good value for money have been in high demand from those looking for better bang for their buck.”
 
“While areas with lower value investor housing stock such as Manurewa, Papakura in the south, Hillcrest and Sunnynook on the North Shore, Ranui and Glen Eden in the West – areas previously dominated by investor demand have seen values drop back.”
 
“However, while first home buyers face less competition for entry level homes, prices are still too high for most and there are reports that some deals are falling over at the finance stage with some having trouble securing finance due to stricter criteria from banks.” 
 
“The latest CoreLogic Buyer classification data shows sales to investors have hit a high of 44.0% and that the share of sales to cash buyers not affected by the LVR restrictions has increased while first home buyers have dropped to a record low of 19.0% of Auckland sales.”
 
 
Hamilton  
The downward trend seen in Hamilton home values seen since the introduction of the latest round of lending restrictions has continued in some parts of the city but other areas are now seeing values stabilising and rising again. Overall values for Hamilton city have risen 15.7% year on year and they have decreased slightly by 0.4% over the past three months and they are 47.4% higher than the previous peak of 2007. The average value in the Hamilton is now $532,888.
 
QV homevalue Hamilton valuer, Stephen Hare said, “While the Hamilton market is not as frantic as it was this time last year and values have plateaued, there is still good demand for properties.”
 
“Homes in the low to mid price bracket of the Hamilton market of between $400,000 and $500,000 are still attracting a lot of interest from first home buyers as well as from investors.”
 
“Auctions have become less attractive with recent results seeing more properties being passed in and instead selling with a listing price and by negotiation has become more common place with vendors less inclined to auction their homes in the current market.”
 
“With the Hamilton City market seeing values plateau, we are now seeing a levelling out in value growth in surrounding small townships such as Ngaruawahia, Huntly and Te Awamutu.”
 
“Meanwhile Cambridge continues to see strong demand for properties. Locality plays a huge factor with Cambridge being considered a very desirable location for people to live.”
 
Tauranga
The Tauranga market continues to rise but at a much slower rate than prior to the LVR restrictions introduced late last year. Home values in Tauranga City up by 18.3% year on year and 0.6% over the past three months. The average value in the city is now $676,381. Meanwhile, the Western Bay of Plenty values continue to rise more quickly, up 18.7% year on year and 3.3% over the past three months. The average value in the district is now $590,608.
 
QV homevalue Tauranga, Registered Valuer, David Hume said, “In a similar trend to what’s being seen in Auckland, the high end of the Tauranga market is doing well with some record prices achieved.”
 
“There have been large value increases in the $1 million plus bracket of the market as local and out-of-town cash buyers not affected by LVRs continue to move or invest in Tauranga, purchasing high-end properties.”
 
“At the low-end and mid-range of the market things are less frantic and rather than seeing 10-way multi-offers on a property after the first open home, we are instead seeing the market return to a more normal situation with good demand for property and slightly fewer offers on each property now Auckland investors are less active in the market here.”
 
“First home buyers are active but are finding that while the LVR changes have seen less competition from investors for entry level property, stricter lending criteria and higher prices are making it more difficult for them to gain finance to buy.”
 
“Many first home buyers continue to looking outside of Tauranga for more affordable property in Te Puke, Te Puna and other outlying rural areas for more value for money which continues to drive values of homes and lifestyle property up.”
 
“The new Tauranga Northern Link will reduce commuting times to Te Puna and similar road improvements have led to significant property value increases in areas such as Paengaroa, so it’s likely this will also happen in areas north of Bethlehem once the roading project is completed.”
 
Wellington   
The QV House Price Index for the wider Wellington region continues to rise with home values up 21.2% year on year and 3.7% over the past three months and values are now 30.7% higher than in the previous peak of 2007. The average value across the wider region there is now $595,501.
 
Wellington City values are up 20.8% year on year and 3.3% over the past three months and the average value there is now $716,613. Porirua values are up the most over the past three months rising a massive 7.1% since January and 25.4% year on year. The average value there is now $511,483. Meanwhile, Upper Hutt values are still accelerating up 26.6% year on year and 4.7% over the past three months. Lower Hutt values are also still rising rapidly up 25.6% year on year and 5.4% since January.
 
QV homevalue Registered Valuer, David Cornford said, “Values have continued to increase in Wellington on the back of strong buyer demand with value growth remaining fairly consistent at just under 4.0% per quarter.”
 
“Upper Hutt has seen the largest year on year value growth followed closely by Lower Hutt and Porirua.”
 
“First home buyers continue to look to these regions as they struggle to secure a home in Wellington City where average values are now over $700,000.”
 
“First home buyers remain active in the market at record high levels. Investors are also active however some are struggling to secure finance since the introduction of LVR restrictions last year."
 
“There is strong demand for new builds and “off plan” purchasers as they are exempt from the LVR restrictions introduced last year and the Wellington City Council recently announced a rates rebate for first home buyers who build new property or purchase off plans.”
 
“Property values in the Wairarapa towns have continued to see strong value increases above 6.0% over the past three months. The southern Wairarapa towns that are closer to Wellington such as Greytown and Featherston have become an increasingly popular destination for first home buyers who have been priced out of the Wellington market.”
 
Christchurch 
Home values in Christchurch City are rising again in all areas across the city apart from Banks Peninsula after seeing a downward trend following the LVR coming in late last year. Values increased 2.4% year on year, 0.6% over the past three months and they are now 31.0% higher than the previous peak of 2007. The average value in the city is now $497,120.
 
QV homevalue Christchurch, Registered Valuer Daryl Taggart said, “The market is a little patchy in terms of buyer demand and sales prices being achieved.”
 
“There have been more listings coming onto the market which is usual for March which is often the most popular time to sell however given that demand has been lower since the latest round of the LVR restrictions this is meaning buyers have more choice.”
 
“There is still very good demand for housing at the entry level bracket of the market, with strong competition amongst first home buyers for properties priced under $450,000.”
 
“However, in the next level up with homes priced over $600,000  we are not seeing as much demand as it’s out of reach for most first home buyers and those movers looking to trade-up are a lot more fussy.”
 
“There are also more listings available in this price bracket meaning buyers have a better choice in this market and can negotiate, however the right home in the right locality will sell very quickly.”
 
Dunedin
The Dunedin market continues to be buoyant with city home values rising 15.4% year on year and a 2.7% over the past three months and values are now 27.1% above the previous peak of 2007. Dunedin remains the most affordable main centre in New Zealand with an average value of $363,821. Dunedin-Coastal saw the highest growth over the past quarter with values there rising 19.6% in the year to March and a huge 9.5% over the past three months.
 
QV homevalue Dunedin Registered Valuer, Duncan Jack said, “Listing levels continue to be at low levels meaning its slim pickings for buyers and more competition for those properties that are on the market.”
 
“Home value levels continue to increase with reports of strongest demand being within the mid-price range of $300,000 to $400,000.”
 
“The upper price ranges are also in demand but are seeing less growth compared to the lower end of the market.”
 
“Multi offers continue to be the norm with buyers competing strongly which is continuing to drive prices and value levels.”
 
“Both local and out-of-town investors remain very active within the Dunedin market.”
 
Nelson
Nelson home values continue to see strong value growth up 16.9% year on year and 4.5% over the past three months. The average value in the city is now $522,201.  Values continue to rise in the Tasman District up 16.3% year on year and 2.7% over the past three months. The average value in the district is now $512,754.
 
QV homevalue Nelson Registered Valuer Craig Russell said, “There has been increased activity within the $1,000,000 plus price bracket with strong prices being achieved, particularly for lifestyle holdings on the Richmond periphery.”
 
“Section prices continue to climb with some eye watering prices being achieved in some instances. “There have been numerous developments pre sell sections prior to earthworks commencing.”
 
“We are seeing a reduced margin on rental yields with values rising and long term interest rates creeping up. This has contributed to less investor activity in the market.”
 
“With such strong value level growth over the past 12 to 18 months affordability has become a major issue with some overextended homeowners at risk from a rise in interest rates.”
 
“Those looking to get onto the property market are also finding it difficult obtaining a suitable property within their budget.”
 
Hawkes Bay
Napier values are up 17.9 % year on year and 1.9% over the past three months. The average value in the city is now $422,945 and values are now 24.3% above the previous peak of 2007. The Hastings market continues to see strong value growth up 20.4% year on year and 3.0% over the past three months and the market is now 27.9% higher than 2007. The average value there is now $398,612.
 
QV homevalue Hawkes Bay Registered Valuer Michelle Drinkrow said, “The Hawkes Bay housing market is continuing to see plenty of interest, with good sale prices being seen but some of the heat appears to have come out of the market with less frenzied buying.”
 
“The odd property is passing in at auction or staying on the market for longer than expected, but this could be more due to unreasonable vendor price expectations who are still holding out for big money.”
 
“There are very few vacant sections currently available however we understand there are several new developments starting in the near future across the region which should help with the current high demand.”
 
“We are now starting to see a few buyers moving out of the main centres to more rural locations and commuting into town for work in search of lifestyle or more bang for their buck.”
 
Provincial centres
In the North Island, all areas saw values rise over the past year. Areas just south of Auckland continue to see strong growth with South Waikato District values up 35.7% year on year, and strong value growth continuing in the Hauraki, Waikato, Matamata Piako andThames/Coromandel districts. Rotorua also continued to see strong growth with values up 28.2% since March 2016 and 4.5% over the past three months. Values are rising in Whakatane, Opotiki, Gisborne, Rangitikei, Whanganui, Palmerston North and the Horowhenua after many years of relatively low value growth.
 
The only areas to see values decrease over the past quarter were some parts of Auckland and Hamilton, Wellington-West, Stratford, Waitomo and the Kawerau District where recent massive percentage value growth appears to have peaked.
 
In the South Island, most areas saw values rise over the past year with the exception of the Grey District on the West Coast.  The MacKenzie District once again saw the highest annual value growth up 30.6% year on year and 9.5% over the past three months. While Central Otago District was also up 22.8% year on year and a huge 10.0% over the past three months.
 
While values decreased in the Hurunui, Ashburton, Waimate, Grey and Buller districts over the past three months.
 

Ah renting. It’s a double-edged sword. You avoid the expenses of mortgages, rates and house insurance: but on the flip-side you don’t have complete freedom to do what you like to your property, there’s the worry of increasing rent or “What if the landlord sells?” and you also have to put up with questionable flat-mate behaviour every now and then: there’s always some-one who doesn’t obey fridge etiquette.

We’ve all seen reports of sky-high rental prices in the Capital, and have anecdotal reports of 40+ people attending rental viewings with offers of rent nearing bid situations with people desperate to source stable accommodation. Are we seeing a Landlord dream situation? What’s really going on?

It’s an interesting topic. Our March/April Property Market and Economic Update shows that nationwide rent increases remain hovering at around 5% per annum and in Wellington it’s the same. Increases have not been much higher than this since 2009, even with house values rising at a much faster pace in the last year.

This is likely due to low wage growth, which constrains tenants from paying dramatically higher rent, while low interest rates, high net migration and constrained supply have led to strong value growth. 

 

The slowdown in house prices in recent months has meant that nationwide gross yield has flattened at just over 3%, after falling away from 4% four years ago. All the main centres have lower yields than this time last year as value increases over that time outstripped rent increases, with Wellington at 3.4%, down from 3.8% a year ago

 

Ok then, so what’s rental yield? It measures how much income the rental property produces each year as a percentage of its value. For property, the yield is calculated as the percentage of rental income for the purchase price and provides an indication for prospective landlords to gauge the value of buying an investment property.

 

So: whilst the media headlines may focus on the growth in rental prices, that growth is not out of step with value increase, which means prospective returns for landlords, in the form of rental yields remain very modest.

If you’re interested in what’s actually happening in your neck of the woods, you can access our free rental analysis on QV.co.nz. You’ll find median rent, number of bonds, median E-Valuer, gross yield as well as both annual rent and annual E-Valuer change in your suburb. Whilst headlines about the Capital’s rental situation may scream “record highs" , when you look behind the headlines at the actual facts: Yes, for sure: some suburbs are seeing huge rent increases, such as Miramar / Strathmore and Mt Cook - but it’s countered by other suburbs such as Mt Victoria / Roseneath and Wadestown / Thorndon which are showing negative rental growth year on year. 

 

Get right up to speed with what has been happening in the NZ property market as our Head of Research Jonno Ingerson takes you through the latest trends, with some very interesting new developments!

Topics covered in this months short video include the annual change in monthly sales volumes, a drop in values across a lot of the country and activity of first home buyers in the market.

This easy watch will bring you right up to speed - covering the main things of interest including market activity, values and buyer types active in the market.