House market in top 10 with 1.3pc price fall

New Zealand is holding its own globally, with only a slight drop in prices Photo / Richard Robinson

New Zealand is holding its own globally, with only a slight drop in prices Photo / Richard Robinson

By Anne Gibson – NZ Herald

New Zealand has ranked in the top 10 housing markets in the world, but prices have still dropped.

It had one of the smallest price falls lately and is ranked alongside Europe for toughing out the slump. Real estate consultancy Knight Frank has released its international house price index which compared house price changes in the second quarter of last year with the same period this year.

That showed New Zealand was ninth least affected out of 32 countries. “It now appears that house prices are starting to stabilise across the world,” said Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank. BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander said the list of pessimists expecting house prices to fall was shrinking. Even one of the most powerful arms of the state turned out to be wrong, he noticed.

And it has said so. “This week, Treasury revised away their previous prediction that average house prices would fall by 10 per cent over the coming year,” he said. “Now they expect prices will rise slightly, though wisely don’t predict by how much.

“There are simply too many factors in play to take a solid stab at how much prices will move in the coming year or three. But unless one believes the world economy is going to slip back into a potential depression scenario there is little reason for believing house prices will fall.” .

Not everyone is delighted with the housing recovery. BNZ managing director Andrew Thorburn this week said the country’s $130 billion overdraft was unsustainable. In a turn which surprised some commentators because of banks’ role in fuelling the property market, Mr Thorburn worried about consumers loading up with debt. Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard also fretted about the housing recovery last week.

“We are always very alert to not wanting to spark off an unnecessary or unbalanced housing revival,” he said. Since the start of the year, housing market activity had increased.

“Although still at levels comparable to previous recessions, housing turnover has risen noticeably from the lows seen through calendar 2008. “In addition, house prices have begun to increase, mainly due to unusually low numbers of houses being offered for sale,” Dr Bollard said.

Real estate websites were also busier last month. Trade Me Property had 938,185 visitors, up 5 per cent on July. had 395,965 unique browsers, up 7 per cent, had 185,687 (+5.83 per cent ) and 124,646 (+9.51 per cent).

Real estate agent Michael Boulgaris said cheap money was helping housing recover. “With the ASB cutting its floating mortgage rate by 65 base points to a new low of 5.75 per cent, the spring property boom is yielding increased confidence among buyers, vendors and agents,” he said.