Reading the signs

Property values have increased further according to the QV residential property indices for January released recently.

Nationally, values are 4.4 per cent above the same time last year and 4.3 per cent below the peak of the market in late 2007.

The average sales price across New Zealand also increased to $409,807 in January, up from the $404,671 in December. However, the average sales price is a less reliable measure of value change than the QV index as the average can be skewed depending on which part of the market is active.

Glenda Whitehead of QV Valuations commented that the majority of the market activity, particularly in the main centres, is being driven more by existing homeowners and first home buyers.

Those currently entering the market appear to be taking a cautious approach to their decisions, and are doing their research thoroughly. Some of the frantic market activity of 2009, when there were multiple buyers competing for a property, appears to have eased, at least for the time being, according to Ms Whitehead.

Values in most of the main centres have continued to increase in recent months and are now all above the same time last year. Values in the Auckland Region are now 7.3 per cent up, the Wellington Area is 5.7 per cent up, and Christchurch 6.3 per cent up. Values in the other main centres have fluctuated in recent months, but still remain above last year by 3.5 per cent in Hamilton, 0.6 per cent in Tauranga, and 5.0 per cent in Dunedin.

In the provincial centres values have been more variable over recent months. However, values in nearly all areas are now above the same time last year. Rotorua is 3.3 per cent up, Napier 5.1, New Plymouth 7.1, Wanganui 0.1, Palmerston North 5.6, Nelson 3.6, and Invercargill 4.6 percent. Whangarei is the only centre still below last year at 3.9 per cent.

Queenstown Lakes is 0.5 per cent above last year and this is the first time it has shown year on year growth since May 2008. This is due to an increase in values in the last few months after a relatively flat 2009.