QV House Price Index, August 2021: Will it be déjà vu for the property market after lockdown 2.0?
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease around the country, will the property market gain a fresh head of steam, similar to what we saw at the end of last year's extended lockdown?
Coming into the latest lockdown, the QV House Price Index showed a further reduction in New Zealand’s rolling three-monthly rate of value growth to the end of August for the fourth month in a row.
The average value increased 3.3% nationally over the past three-month period to the end of August, down from the 4.3% quarterly growth we saw in July, with the national average value now sitting at $963,046. This represents an increase of 26.6% year-on-year, up slightly from 26.4% last month.
In the Auckland region, the average value now sits at $1,368,252, up 2.4% over the last three-month period, with annual growth of 24%, up a fraction from July’s year-on-year growth of 23.7%.
QV general manager David Nagel said: “While prices were still going up as we headed into the latest lockdown, the growth was at a significantly reduced rate compared to earlier peaks.”
“This is the fourth month running that we’ve seen a reduction in the nation’s rolling three-month average growth rate, so the market has clearly been cooling. Interestingly, value growth rates are very similar to the levels we saw in the middle of 2020 when New Zealand came out of our first lockdown. But pent-up property demand from last year's extended lockdown, plus a stimulated economy as a result of the Reserve Bank's slashing of the OCR, led to a property market on steroids that became a runaway train.”
But Mr Nagel said it would be different this time around. “The economy is doing fine without the stimulus that was needed in 2020. Interest rates have nowhere to go but up, which was already signalled prior to lockdown, plus the rate of new builds is at an all-time high. But most importantly, house price inflation coupled with reducing credit availability has taken home ownership out of the reach of many New Zealanders,” he said.
“It’s difficult to see the housing market return to anything like the growth levels seen over the past couple of years. The gap between supply and demand is closing rapidly, with borders largely closed and new houses coming out of the ground at record speed. More likely, we’ll see a soft landing for the current growth cycle, with the market settling into a new norm closer to the rate of inflation.”
The strongest value gains over the past three months have come from Christchurch at 5.8% growth in value, down from 6.3% last month, closely followed by Napier at 5.7% growth, rebounding back from 3.5% three monthly growth we reported last month.
None of the major urban areas QV monitors have seen a decline in average value, but Marlborough remains flat at 0.3% growth, compared to its three-monthly growth rate of just 0.2% last month.
Central New Zealand continues to show the strongest annual rate of value growth, with three of the four fastest growing regions all in the lower North Island. Values in the Manawatu-Whanganui region have grown 36.7% in the past year, while the greater Wellington and Hawke’s Bay regions have experienced annual growth of 33.5% and 32.9% respectively.
West Coast has the strongest annual rate of growth in the South Island at 33.3%. The three lowest annual growth rates are all in the South Island with the Southland region experiencing a still-significant 20% increase, with Otago showing 21.5% and Tasman at 23.5% annual growth.
House prices were rising faster last month in the Auckland region than the previous month, before the latest Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown halted almost everything in its tracks.
The average house price increased by 1.2% in August to $1,368,252, up from the 0.4% we reported back in July. However, QV’s rolling three-month average recorded a slight drop in house price growth for the quarter − from 3.5% to 2.4%.
All Auckland districts recorded less house price growth in the three months to the end of August than in the previous period. The biggest capital gains were in the Franklin District (6%), followed by Rodney (4.7%), Papakura (3.7%), and the area of west Auckland formerly known as Waitakere City (2.5%).
Though Auckland’s house price growth has slowed considerably this winter when compared to previous highs, the average house price in the region ($1,368,252) is still well up on the same time last year (24%), with all districts experiencing more than 20% value growth over the past 12 months.
Local QV senior consultant Rupert Yortt commented: “The Auckland residential market has seen continued low-level growth over the month of August. Figures have increased slightly overall in August, which is a change of tune from the slowing rate of growth that we have seen over the winter months.”
“When we do eventually come out of lockdown, we expect first-home buyers will be active from the effect of having additional savings and more time to plan their purchasing decisions, while other sectors of the market will be largely unaffected,” he said.
“Market activity is also likely to be relatively stable over the next few months as the market catches up for lost time − although further lockdowns for the region would put additional pressure on the economy. The delay of the inevitable interest rate rises will also keep the market in a strong position for the time being.”
Whangarei’s residential property market was showing further signs of cooling before lockdown.
QV’s three-month rolling average recorded house price growth of just 2% in the three months to the end of August − down from 3.6% in the three months to the end of July, and 7% in the three months to the end of June.
Across the wider region, house prices in the Far North and Kaipara districts have increased by an average of 7.7% and 3.4% this quarter respectively.
Tauranga’s average house value rose swiftly before lockdown, growing 2.7% in August and 5.1% for the quarter.
The city’s average value now sits at $1,073,422, which is a remarkable 32.5% higher than the same time last year. Despite this, QV property consultant Derek Turnwald said the market was cooling overall − as evidenced by the city’s rolling three-monthly rate of value growth halving from 10.2% in May to 5.1% in August.
“Stats show values increasing at a decreasing amount, which hopefully will lead to a more sustainable level of growth and a more stable market overall,” he said.
But he warned that lockdown could add more upward pressure to prices in the short-term. “Lockdown has seen a reduced number of new listings in a market that is already witnessing very low stock numbers. This could mean added excess demand pressure in the short term, applying further upward pressure on values for a little longer.”
Meanwhile, bidding at online auctions during lockdown remained strong, despite investor purchasers becoming markedly more subdued following the government’s changes to the Brightline test and tax deductibility rules.
There was a slight cooling of the Waikato region’s rate of residential house price growth last month.
The region’s average home value increased by 1.3% in August to $827,969, down from the 2.5% we reported last month. Quarterly value growth dropped from 6.8% to 6%, and there was a monthly decline in the total number of sales in the region.
In Hamilton, house prices increased by 1.6% last month and 4.6% for the quarter, slightly down from 1.7% and 5.2% respectively. The average house price is now $847,591 − though it’s considerably higher in the city’s North East ($977,214), which is rapidly closing in on a $1m average price tag.
Local QV property consultant Tom Schicker commented: “Agents are still reporting a shortage of quality listings on the market, which will likely be exacerbated by lockdown as agents haven’t been able to appraise properties and vendors haven’t been able to prepare properties for sale.
“As a result of this scarcity it's still common to receive multiple offers from first-home buyers at the entry level, and in general towards properties with any kind of development potential.”
Mr Schicker expected more stock to come onto the market in spring, especially if and when the Covid-19 alert level reduces further.
House prices increased by an average of 1% in Rotorua last month, all but making up for the relatively small 1.1% drop we reported back in July. The average residential house value is now $690,840.
Local property consultant Derek Turnwald said the rate at which house prices were going up was obviously slowing, as evidenced by QV’s three-month rolling average sinking from 3.1% in July to 1.9% in August.
“There is still a very low number of listings and the lastest lockdown will further reduce that number as agents haven’t been able to produce appraisals and chase leads, and prospective vendors haven’t been able to prepare properties for sale. This could result in further reduced supply for several months,” he said.
“Rotorua residential market tends to be quiet over winter. However, this year has been more dramatic than usual. Some agents reported renewed interest from investors − although there’s a sense that they are looking for bargains that sometimes appear in a slowing market.”
Although the Reserve Bank’s decision to maintain the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 0.25 has given borrowers a reprieve, Mr Turnwald said it would likely only be a short one, depending on how quickly New Zealand manages to stamp out the Delta strand of Covid-19 in the community.
“Inflation is higher and unemployment is lower than expected, which makes interest rate rises almost inevitable. This should reduce interest in the market overall, along with loan-to-value ratios (LVRs) and changes to the Brightline test and tax deductibility rules. So I suspect we may be about to head into a phase of more sustainable growth.”
House prices continue to grow across the Taranaki region − albeit at a reduced rate compared to previous highs.
The housing market has been hottest this quarter in Stratford, where the average house price has increased by 8.3% to $481,418. In New Plymouth, prices have increased by 4.3% this quarter (down slightly from the 4.5% growth we reported last month), while prices in South Taranaki have grown by 5.9% over the same period.
Local QV registered valuer Danny Grace commented: “The market has typically been strongest at the lower end of Taranaki’s residential property market, but there have been continued strong sales of higher value properties and strong interest in well-located vacant sections.”
“Due to the uncertainty surrounding the length of the current lockdown, local real estate agents have been reporting that vendors are holding off listing their properties for now. This will continue to put pressure on supply, so we expect to continue to see low levels of stock on the market.”
House price growth accelerated across the Hawke’s Bay region as a whole last month, with the three-month rolling average increasing from 3.5% to 4.2%.
Despite lockdown, the monthly rate of house price growth also increased in August from 1.5% to 2.2% in Napier, where the average house value now sits at $844,371. In neighbouring Hastings, the average house value increased 1.1% to $833,643, up from 0.7% the month before.
QV valuer Damian Hall said lockdown had little impact on the local housing market so far, besides the obvious reduction in numbers to open homes and, to a lesser extent, auctions. “Given that it’s only been a little over two weeks since we entered lockdown, with most of the country now in level three, it may be too soon to see the direct impact,” he said.
“If the country is able to get back to normal sooner rather than later, we would expect things to pick up in the next few months leading into spring. For now though, the biggest concern for buyers in this market seems to be the lack of property listings and the prospect of rising interest rates.”
Meanwhile, he said the increasing cost of building materials was continuing to put stress on the construction industry. “The current lockdown is creating more delays as Auckland remains in alert level four for at least another two weeks,” he added.
House price growth continues to taper off in Palmerston North, where the average house value increased by 1.2% in August to $742,336.
It marks the fourth month in a row that QV’s House Price Index has recorded a decline in the city’s monthly rate of house price growth − though prices remain a resounding 37.3% higher on average than the same time last year.
QV property consultant Olivia Roberts said high demand and low supply continued to drive house price growth right up until lockdown. “Prior to lockdown we continued to see growth in property prices throughout the Manawatu region, albeit at a slower rate,” she said.
“The recent Covid-19 outbreak has caused significant uncertainty in the economy and we are yet to see the impact on the property market. We anticipate a number of vendors that would have planned to list their properties for sale in spring will now either defer until after lock down restrictions ease completely, or vendors with no real urgency to sell will likely take a wait-and-see approach.”
House prices continued to cool across the greater Wellington region in August, before the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown froze almost everything completely.
The average house price increased by just 0.7% to $1,037,127 in August, which is a far cry from the region’s April peak of 4.5% growth in a single month. In fact, the region’s latest three-monthly average rate of house price growth was 4%, trending down from the 4.7% we reported last month.
The largest capital gains this quarter were in Porirua, where house prices increased by an average of 5.1%, followed by Upper Hutt (4.5%) and Wellington city (4.4%).
QV senior consultant David Cornford predicted that lockdown would likely have little-to-no impact on property values in the Wellington region overall. “There was a slowing of value growth prior to lockdown that is likely to continue in the months ahead,” he said.
“The lockdown has given people plenty of time to browse real estate listings and consider their next property move. Once we move to alert level two, there is likely to be a fair bit of activity in the market, but interest rate rises are still on the horizon, as is a potential tightening of lending criteria – both of which will likely dampen value growth.”
“We may see a bit of a spike in stock as the region works its way down the Covid-19 alert levels. However, stock is likely to continue to be constrained overall and demand is expected to hold firm,” he added.
Nelson house prices rebounded in August, rising 2.7% (up from 1.1% in July) following four months of declining growth.
QV senior property consultant Craig Russell said supply constraints were a major issue in the region as it headed into lockdown with the number of properties available for sale steadily falling over a number of months.
“A number of vendors would have planned to list their properties for sale in spring. These planned listings will now be either deferred until the Covid-19 alert level is reduced further, or vendors with no real urgency to sell will likely take a wait-and-see approach,” he said.
“The real effect of the nationwide lockdown is unknown at this stage. But the Reserve Bank has signalled that the rise in the OCR was deferred only due to Delta. When interest rates do eventually go up, it will likely dampen the housing market to a certain extent.”
The Canterbury residential market entered lockdown with some upward momentum.
Within Christchurch city, the latest QV House Price Index shows a reduction in three-monthly value growth, from 6.3% to 5.8%, with the average value now sitting at $676,727. This represents an annual growth rate of 29%.
Values continue to rise in the neighbouring Waimakariri District, where the average house price has increased 9.4% over the past three-month period to $609,112. The Selwyn District followed a similar pattern; its three-monthly rate of value growth increased from 7.7% at the end of July to 9.1% at the end of August, with an average home value of $736,316.
Local QV property consultant Olivia Brownie commented: “The new-build market continues to appeal to investors and first-home buyers due to government regulation and reduced supply, which in turn is providing demand for house-and-land packages and a significant increase in land values within the Canterbury region.
“This is most evident in the continuous value increases seen for the outer areas of the Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts, as well as southwest Christchurch, where a lot of the new build activity is underway.”
“There remains some uncertainty now with Covid-19 outbreaks and further lockdowns potentially disrupting the market, yet leading into spring we would expect activity in the property market to pick up,” she added.
House prices increased at a rate of 1.2% in Dunedin last month, before the lockdown at Covid-19 alert level four stopped most activity in its tracks.
QV area manager Tim Gibson said demand was high for land and residential property that “ticked all the right boxes” when the region entered lockdown. Now he expected that trend to continue as the alert level reduced in the South Island and the entire country moved into spring.
“Coming out of our first Covid lockdown last year, we observed stagnated value growth due to uncertainty after a sustained period of growth prior. It didn’t take long for normal market conditions to reappear with well-documented value growth occurring from that point,” he said.
“This time around, as we enter into spring which is traditionally a period where we see more property transactions occurring, we are anticipating the Dunedin market to continue on much as it was prior to the recent lockdown.”
The average home value in Dunedin is currently $685,167, which is 22.1% higher than the same time last year.
Queenstown’s residential property market is subject to a great deal of uncertainty right now, as evidenced by a small 0.7% drop in the average house price in August.
This small fall follows the sharp 3.5% rise we reported back in July, with QV’s three-month rolling average recording growth of 2.9% overall at the end of August. The average value of a residential property in Queenstown now stands at $1,425,821.
Local QV property consultant Greg Simpson commented: “The recent Covid-19 outbreak is likely to have a generally negative effect on the local economy for possibly the short-to-medium term. The property market conditions will be subject to a high potential for change and market uncertainty as a result.”
Meanwhile, he warned that while the Reserve Bank had kept the Official Cash Rate (OCR) on hold for the time being, most economists still expected it to rise later this year. “Once the Covid-19 outbreak has settled down, homeowners should expect to see a series of hikes that could add up to 2.5% to mortgage interest rates,” he added.
Invercargill’s average house value increased by 3.5% this quarter – including a 1.4% rise in the month of August alone – to $455,845.
Local QV property consultant Andrew Ronald noted it was a slight increase on the 1.3% monthly and 3% quarterly house value growth we reported last month. “Favourable borrowing rates are still encouraging purchasers to the market, stimulating market activity,” he said.
“We’re seeing continued strong demand for most property types − although buyer inquiries and open home numbers are down compared to early 2021 and less properties are attracting multiple offers. There has been less investor activity over recent months, strong demand from first-home buyers and strong demand for building sites throughout the wider Invercargill area.”
Provincial centres, North Island
The Waikato District tops our list of North Island provincial centres this month with its average house price increasing by 13.8% in the three months ending 31 August 2021. For quarterly house price growth, it’s followed by Hauraki (10.1%) and Kawerau (9.9%).
When it comes to annual growth, however, Opotiki is in a league of its own at an astonishing 49.6%. Horowhenua (39.6%) and Hauraki (37.7%) are the next closest of the North Island’s provincial centres.
Provincial centres, South Island
In the South Island, Waimate leads all provincial centres for quarterly house price growth (10.9%), followed by Grey (10.1%) and Westland (10%). Grey and Waimate are also top of the list in terms of annual house price growth at 38.7% and 36.5% respectively.
Keep track of all these value movements and in many more regions around New Zealand via our interactive QV House Price Index.