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Forget Auckland - it's Pokeno for a family and Kawerau to retire
5 November 2014
Forget Auckland - it's Pokeno for a family and Kawerau to retire

New Zealand's roaring property market is a tale of two cities - Auckland and Christchurch - while the rest of the country mostly lags well behind.

House prices in 16 areas across New Zealand have increased since the last property boom of 2007, but have fallen in 37 and remained stable in 19.

Auckland City saw the most significant increase, soaring 38.5 per cent from $622,521 to $861,978 followed by the Selwyn District in Canterbury (36 per cent), which rose from $372,920 to $507,316.

Waitakere City, North Shore City and Manukau City also recorded big gains, according to property data and analytics company CoreLogic which has compared the house price index in September 2007 to September 2014.

Prices in Wairoa were hit the hardest, dropping 41.9 per cent from $244,767 to $142,257, followed by Waitomo, Otorohanga and Kawerau which all recorded declines of about a third since 2007.

Hamilton, Napier, Wellington and Central Hawke's Bay were among the areas where prices remained stable.

New Zealand's housing is among the most overvalued in the developed world, according to The Economist magazine.

Research released in September found our rampant housing market grew by 7.3 per cent in the last year, the sixth fastest among 23 surveyed nations.

CoreLogic research director Jono Ingerson said the overall national growth of 16.2 per cent since 2007 had been driven almost exclusively by Auckland and Christchurch.

Mr Ingerson put the rise in Auckland down to demand driven by consumer confidence, migration and strong competition for a relatively low number of properties for sale. Meanwhile, the Christchurch earthquakes had put pressure on housing stock in Canterbury and pushed up values in surrounding areas.

NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said between 2007 and 2014 house prices in most parts of provincial New Zealand fell and were now at reasonable levels relative to income and rent.

However, house prices in Auckland and Canterbury were at the biggest risk of reversing because prices had diverged from incomes.

"House prices have risen in Auckland by hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last 10 years whereas incomes haven't. So you've got this very fragile housing market where there is no strong foundation underneath."

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said there would still be underlying demand for Auckland property based on population and migration projections, but he believed it was unsustainable and people would start to look to the regions.

Last internal migration figures showed Auckland had suffered slightly and people were moving to Hamilton, Tauranga and even Central Otago, he said.

"That sort of dynamic tells me that when push comes to shove and that rubberband looks pretty stretched people start to look at the alternatives. You keep an eye on Bay of Plenty and Tauranga in the next 12 to 24 months because from a pure valuation perspective Tauranga is starting to look very attractive to the Aucklanders."

Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said the figures demonstrated the extent to which house price increases had been concentrated in Auckland and Canterbury, which was why it was so concerning the LVR restrictions placed on home buyers were nationwide and not regional.

"We are hearing stories of people - not a flood, but a small number of people - buying in northern parts of Hamilton with the view to commute. And also ... anecdotally an increase in people investing in the regions because the prices were more affordable and the yields are stronger while they perhaps rent in Auckland."

 

Forget Auckland - it's Pokeno for a family and Kawerau to retire

Daniel and Sam Kealey bought their first home in Botany Downs when their son Kayden was born three years ago, but now the young family have outgrown the two-bedroom apartment.

The Kealeys paid $310,000 for the 80sq metre apartment with a swimming pool and gym complex, which is now being marketed in the mid-$400,000s.

But even with the promise of a sizeable profit, the young family struggled to find a suitable family home with a good-sized section for their son to kick a ball around in Auckland as they were all well out of their budget.

It was only when they started looking further south that they fell in love with Pokeno. The couple have bought a new four-bedroom, two-bathroom home on a 703sq metre section for $542,000.

"We pretty much looked everywhere in Auckland and it was just too expensive. For the same size place we are buying in Pokeno, up in Auckland it would be over a million dollars," Mr Kealey said.

"What's important is having a big place with a decent size section where the kids can run around as we plan to have another child."

Alan Devitt believes you can't look past Kawerau for value and lifestyle. The 79-year-old bought his first property in Kawerau three years ago for $130,000, and since then has bought another five houses - all for less than $100,000 each.

The town of 2500 had the fourth biggest decline in house sale prices - a 31.5 per cent drop from $159,249 in September 2007 to $109,141 in September this year, according to CoreLogic.

The retired businessman moved from the East Coast to Kawerau and he and wife Anne believe the town's affordability and its lifestyle, community feel, facilities and services, including medical care, were better than anywhere else in New Zealand.

Source - NZ Herald

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