QV House Price Index, May 2023: Are we there yet? Property downturn eases slightly
The residential property market’s downward trajectory has eased slightly for the second month in a row – but we could yet be in for some increased volatility in the months ahead.
The latest QV House Price Index shows home values decreased by 3.4% nationally over the three months to the end of May 2023 – a slight improvement on the 3.5% quarterly reduction in April and the 3.9% quarterly reduction in March – with the average value now sitting at $888,930. That figure is 13.7% lower than the same time last year and 20.2% higher than its pre-Covid-19 level.
The average rate of home value decline has slowed this quarter in 11 of the country’s 16 largest urban areas – including in Auckland (-2.3%), Hamilton (-2%), Christchurch (-2.5%), and Wellington (-2.6%). The latter’s average rate of decline has even dropped below the national average (-3.4%) for the first time since the downturn began.
Queenstown once again managed to buck an otherwise pervasive downward trend amongst the main centres, with home values rising by an average of 2.4% for the May quarter. Otherwise the quarterly rate of decline increased in Tauranga (-4%), New Plymouth (-2%), Nelson (-2.4%) and Marlborough (-4%) but only by an average of between 0.1% and 0.6% compared to last month’s index.
Quotable Value (QV) operations manager James WIlson said it was still too soon to call this the bottom of the market. “It is still very early days and sales volumes remain low across the country. We would still need a few more months of continued softening to claim conclusively that we’re at the bottom of the market.
“When the market does hit bottom, we won’t suddenly see values begin to increase across the board. Instead, what we’re likely to see is a bumpy landing, with some centres reaching the bottom of their descent before others. Certain locations and property types may begin to experience some growth sooner rather than later, whereas others may remain flat or continue to soften for a period.”
He said areas that appealed to first-home buyers and investors would likely be the first to rise. “One interesting trend that we have observed is the relative strength of areas that have experienced strong first-home buyer activity over the past 12-18 months. In fact, most areas of the country that have experienced positive value growth or held relatively steady over the last quarter have had average values of well below $1m. In other words, ‘first home buyer territory’.
“While investors haven’t removed themselves entirely from the market, they have continued to adopt a wait-and-see approach in many markets. However, indications that the Official Cash Rate has peaked could entice them back, with valuers and real estate agents at the ‘coal face’ of the market already reporting a small uptick in interest. Time will tell whether we do see a growing number of investors represented in sales volumes over the next few months, competing for entry level stock.”
Meanwhile, Mr Wilson said there still remained a high level of uncertainty within the market overall. “There’s a generally cautious mindset out there, especially among many ‘Mum and Dad’ buyer types. While these buyers remain inactive, value levels in areas that used to be strong are likely to remain pretty weak. Strong net migration numbers may add some heat into the housing market over time, but it’s likely we’ll begin to see the impact of this on the rental market first.
“Now, as we head into winter, many eyes will turn to the election to see if any new or unforecast policies begin to emerge that may impact certain buyer types more than others. However, history shows us that elections don’t typically have a significant impact on the housing market. Most likely, we’ll see some buyer types remain on the sidelines until the result comes in. But it looks likely we’re in for a few more bumps in the road between now and then.”
Auckland’s average rate of home value reduction has slowed for the third month in a row.
The region’s average home value dropped just 0.3% during the month of May to $1,258,521. This is a slight improvement on the 0.5% average loss in home value that was previously reported for April this year, as well as average monthly reductions of 1.5% and 2.5% in March and February respectively.
Home values are 14.4% lower on average than the same time last year, with the quarterly rate of decline easing from 4.4% in the last QV House Price Index to 2.3% in the latest.
Local QV valuer Hugh Robson commented: “The Auckland market has remained fairly quiet over the past month or so, but the rate of decline in house prices appears to have eased somewhat. This may be a signal that the market is ‘bottoming out’. Only time will tell for certain.”
“Mortgage rates remain high and many owners who purchased a property over the past 2-4 years are facing the prospect of re-fixing their mortgage at a considerably higher interest rate, coupled with a property that has decreased in value considerably.”
There are a number of geographic variations across the Northland region’s housing market this month.
Home values have continued their downward slide in Whangarei, dropping by an average of 3.5% this quarter – a slight improvement on the 4.6% quarterly decline reported in last month’s QV House Price Index. Values are also down 9.4% in the Far North this quarter, and up 3.6% in Kaipara District.
Home values are down in Whangarei by an average of 13% since the same time last year, with the Far North also showing a double-digit decline (10.8%) annually. Kaipara is showing more resilience, with values down 7.9% year on year.
Home values continue to subside in Tauranga – but there are signs that the market is approaching the bottom of its current correction cycle.
The latest QV House Price Index shows the average home has reduced in value by 4% this quarter to $1,004,147, a slightly faster rate of reduction than the 3.7% reported in last month’s figures. On an annual basis, the average value is now 15.8% lower than the same time last year.
QV property consultant Derek Turnwald said there were early signs of a shift in market sentiment. “It’s still early days and it will take time for a change in confidence in the residential market and in the larger global economy post pandemic. But there are signs that things are beginning to change now.
“First-home buyers and ‘hand sitters’ who have been in a position to buy or sell but have patiently waited for stability in the market are starting to show some interest now. Even investors are becoming increasingly active – but many others will be waiting to see what this year’s election result will be.”
In the meantime, he said net migration was continuing to build. “This will create significant new demand for residential property – especially in the larger centres, including Tauranga.”
Hamilton’s residential property market hit a small speed bump in May.
The average home value increased by 0.4% last month to $779,007, breaking a four-month trend of declining home values in the city. But the average home value is still on average 2% less than it was three months ago, and 11.1% lower than the same time last year.
QV property consultant Marshall Wu said sales volumes were significantly lower than the same period last year. “Market sentiment remains relatively subdued, with no sign of interest rates easing in the near future. Additionally, the cost of living continues to rise with annual inflation remaining high. Agents are reporting longer selling periods with fewer buyers in the market.”
Meanwhile, home values have reduced by an average of 3.4% across the wider Waikato region this quarter.
“There are signs that Waikato property prices may be starting to stabilise as we move into the cooler months of the year. Though several factors continue to contribute to uncertainty in the market – including limited supply, changes in lending rules, and the coming 2023 General Election,” Mr Wu added.
Home values appear to be holding steady in Rotorua.
The city’s average home value dropped just 0.2% this quarter to $641,633, following a slow-but-steady May that saw values slip back just 0.1% on average.
QV property consultant Derek Turnwald said he was seeing early indications that the correction was coming to an end and that the residential market was bottoming out.
“First Home buyers are realising that the market is reaching the end of a decline and are showing stronger interest now. Banks are beginning to relax a little on the subject of loan application scrutiny, and as of 1 June the Reserve Bank has relaxed loan-to-value ratio criteria slightly for owner occupiers and investors,” he said.
“Investors are starting to show some interest in the market, as they also sense now that the market is close to bottoming out. Although most of them are still likely waiting to see if National takes power later this year and changes some of the tax laws that the current Government put in place to make investment in property ownership less attractive.”
The Taranaki region’s property market largely stayed the course in May.
Home values fell across the region by an average of 2.2% this quarter – just 0.2% worse than the quarterly rate of reduction reported in last month’s QV House Price Index.
In New Plymouth, the rolling three-month average rate of home value reduction has increased from 1.5% in March, to 1.7% in April, and now 2% in May. The average home value is now $706,762, which is 6.1% lower than the same time last year.
In the neighbouring districts of Stratford and South Taranaki home values have reduced by an average of 4.9% and 2.3% respectively this quarter.
The average rate of home value decline has slowed across the wider Hawke’s Bay region.
The latest QV House Price Index shows the average home value decreased this quarter in Napier and Hastings by 3.4% and 1% respectively, down from quarterly reductions of 4.2% and 2.3% in the previous index.
The average home value in Napier is now $742,741, which is 14.6% lower than at the end of May 2022. In Hastings, that figure is $773,825, which is 13.2% lower than the same time last year.
Meanwhile, home values increased by an average of 1.6% in Wairoa this quarter. All other districts saw a decline of between 1% and 4%, with the average regional rate of reduction decreasing across the region by 1.4% overall.
QV Hawke’s Bay manager Damian Hall commented: “The Hawke’s Bay market is possibly showing signs of flattening, with the decline in house prices starting to slow generally. The Reserve Bank's recent cash rate hike was lower than the previous one, and so the sentiment is that the country is starting to get a grasp on inflation. Mortgage rates are also showing signs of slowing.
“This is good news for first-home buyers who appear to have been more active in the market over the past couple of months. Investors are starting to look around again but are not completely active just yet. Some older stock is starting to shift and agents are beginning to see things pick up again.”
Palmerston North’s average rate of home value decline has slowed for the third consecutive month.
The city’s average home value is now $624,137, which is 14.4% lower than the same time last year. It declined by 1.3% during the May quarter, which is a marked improvement on figures quoted in the past three iterations of the QV House Price Index – 3.9% in February, 2.7% in March, and 2% in April.
Local QV registered valuer Olivia Betts commented: “We continue to see a levelling out within the market, which is expected to continue until interest rates stabilise and then eventually abate. Meanwhile, demand for residential property remains subdued generally and the number of sale transactions is low as we now move into the winter months.”
The downturn has slowed once more in Wellington, indicating that the residential property market’s downturn could well be bottoming out.
The latest QV House Price Index shows home values went down across the region by an average of 2.6% throughout the May quarter – an improvement on average declines of 3.7% and 4.8% in the three months to the end of April and March respectively.
It’s the first time since the downturn began that home values in the Wellington region have tracked downward at a slower quarterly rate of decline than the national average (-3.4%).
Local QV senior consultant David Cornford commented: “Value declines in the Wellington region have been relatively small over the last two months, providing further support that we may be at, or close to, the bottom of the market. Only time will tell for certain. In the meantime, the market remains relatively quiet and buyers continue to lack a sense of urgency.”
“The next biggest foreseeable variable impacting the property market is likely to be the General Election. We expect many people will hold off on their purchasing or selling decisions until after this. If a National government is elected, it is likely that investors may start to become more active in the market again, competing with first-home buyers and potentially supporting a market recovery.
“First-home buyers currently have little competition from investors, which combined with a slight easing of bank lending criteria, is currently providing them with a relatively good opportunity to enter the market.”
The largest home value declines this quarter occurred once more in Porirua (-7.7%) and Kapiti Coast District (-4.5%). The region’s average home value is now $831,673, which is 19.1% lower than the same time last year.
Home values in Nelson are on average 9.3% lower than the same time last year.
The latest QV House Price Index shows the city’s average home value is now $783,640, following a decline of 2.4% during the May quarter – weakening further from the 1.8% quarterly decline reported in last month’s index.
QV Nelson/Marlborough manager Craig Russell said property values continued to retract but at a relatively slower pace than we’ve seen previously. “Confidence in the property market appears to be turning a corner with the Reserve Bank indicating the OCR is now at peak levels, and the easing of loan to value restrictions.”
“There is still a glut of properties for sale in the $900,000 to $1,500,000 price bracket – particularly in the wider Richmond area. These properties need to be competitively priced to meet the market, and so we’re continuing to see some price reductions to align price expectations with the market.”
Home values all but broke even this quarter across the wider West Coast region.
The latest QV House Price Index shows values increased by an average of 4.3% in the May quarter in Buller, and decreased by 0.1% in Grey and 3.5% in Westland, with the regional average sitting 0.2% higher overall.
Residential property statistics continue to fluctuate on a shorter time scale due to lower-than-usual sales volumes. However, home values continue to largely hold steady on an annual basis in Buller (+0.9%), with Grey District (-1%) and Westland District (-3.7%) showing only small reductions by national standards. For comparison, the national average home value is down 13.7% year on year.
Home values are down 2.5% on average in the Garden City this quarter.
That is despite a relatively strong May which saw Christchurch’s average home value increase by 0.8% to $727,585.
Local QV registered valuer Olivia Brownie commented: “Christchurch values have bounced back a bit from the previous month, which could be attributed to a more active May in the property sector for Christchurch, with more sales than the previous month.
“We may even be past the point of seeing any more significant declines in property values for the city. The latest figures could be an early indication we are reaching the bottom of the trough, but we still expect the decline will continue to be inconsistent with so many factors still at play.”
“The slight adjustment of the First Home Grant price caps has now come into effect – we note that properties in the $500,000 to $800,000 value range have seen more enquiries as a result,” Miss Brownie added.
Meanwhile, home values have reduced by an average of 2.1% across the wider Canterbury region this quarter, despite Hurunui (0.3%), Waimakariri (0.5%), Ashburton (1.4%) and Waimate (2.3%) all recording positive growth throughout the three months to the end of May 2023.
Home values have continued to ebb away in Dunedin, albeit at a discounted rate in May.
The latest QV House Price Index shows the city’s average home value decreased by 2.8% this quarter to $617,545, which is a slightly slower rate than the 3.1% quarterly decline reported in last month’s index.
The average home value is now 11.5% lower than at the end of May last year, with the largest annual reductions occurring on the peninsula and coast (-14.7%) and in central Dunedin (-12.1%).
Local QV registered valuer Rebecca Johnston commented: “We’re seeing values flatten out compared to the previous month, down 0.3% in May compared to a 2.2% average decline back in April. While it feels like we are levelling out at the bottom of the cycle now, the election later this year will provide further direction and certainty on that.”
She said the number of real estate listings had dropped across the city in May, with a continued shortage of rental properties. “This is putting upward pressure on rents. We’re seeing the strongest demand for one and two bedroom rentals.”
Queenstown’s residential property market continues to slowly track in the opposite direction to much of Aoteraoa New Zealand.
The latest QV House Price Index shows homes in Queenstown were worth 3.1% more on average at the end of May 2023 than at the same time last year. Though the average home value went down 1.1% to $1,718,497 in May, that figure is still up 2.4% for the quarter.
Local QV registered valuer Greg Simpson commented: “We note that there is currently reduced sales volumes and fluctuating but still positive value growth for residential property overall. The Queenstown Lakes District has selling prices that are above other districts and this is likely to continue given the recovery of the tourism industry and the general shortage of housing in the main centres of Queenstown and Wanaka.”
He said the Reserve Bank’s latest OCR increase would continue to have a “cooling effect” on the housing market. “There’s been strong restraint applied to the housing market from tightening credit conditions.”
Residential property values all but broke even in Invercargill last month.
The city’s average home value went down just 0.2% to $454,159 in May. However, that figure is still 7.1% lower than the same time last year – including a reduction of 2.1% for this quarter.
Local registered valuer Andrew Ronald commented: “The latest QV House Price Index shows residential property values dropped by 0.2% in May, compared to a small increase of 0.6% the month before. These limited changes indicate to me that price declines may indeed be levelling off in Invercargill.”
“There is still much less demand now compared to early 2022 and a greater number of properties on the market. While there is still healthy demand from first home buyers, there are limited investors as a result of continued interest rate increases and changes to tax deductibility rules,” Mr Ronald added.
Keep track of all these value movements and more via our interactive QV House Price Index.