Will the residential property market prove to be as volatile in 2023 as it has been the last three years? Quotable Value (QV) Chief Operating Officer David Nagel says there could well be a few more bumps in the road ahead.
His warning comes as the latest QV House Price Index shows home values fell nationally by an average of 10.3% last year – now confirmed to be the largest drop in more than 15 years and a stark contrast to the previous couple of years. In prior years, the average home value increased nationally by 13.3% and 28.4% in 2020 and 2021 respectively, from $724,185 three years ago to $1,053,315 at the peak of the market. It now sits at $944,767 at the start of 2023.
From 1 January to 31 December last year, the largest recorded drop in average home value across NZ’s main urban centres occurred in the Wellington region (-18.6%). Palmerston North (-15.7%), Hastings (-13.4%), Auckland (-12.3%), and Napier (-11.6%) rounded out the top five, while New Plymouth (-2.5%), Marlborough (-1.5%), and especially Queenstown (+5.9%) proved to be the most resilient. The latter saw the only average home value increase across these centres in 2022.
QV Chief Operating Officer David Nagel said the market hadn’t bottomed out yet. “The latest figures show the average home value slipped a further 1.2% on average this quarter, which is a slight improvement on the 2.9% negative growth reported for the November quarter, but not really the usual ‘summer surge’ that we’d expect to see in the run-up to Christmas and certainly a stark contrast to the last couple of years.
“It’s been a relatively quiet start to the summer, which hasn’t been helped by some of the atrocious weather we’ve had to endure. More significantly, people seem to be taking note of widespread forecasts of further interest rate rises and a likely recession to come in 2023 and they’re now being much more cautious than they have been these past few years. That’s understandable given the outlook.”
“Looking to the year ahead, I think people should be cautious. It looks highly likely that we will experience a good deal more economic pain to help curb inflation this year, particularly if a recession does come to pass and unemployment figures start to climb as a result. Increasing interest rates will continue to impact the residential property market, with those who purchased around the peak of the market in 2021 most likely to bear the brunt of that,” Mr Nagel added.
“COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, the situation in Ukraine is ongoing, wild weather events only appear to be increasing, and this is an election year to cap it all off. So it’s fair to say that we could well be in for a fair bit more volatility, a few more bumps in the road before things maybe start to level out somewhat in the residential property market during the latter part of 2023.”
Auckland home values fell further last year than they did in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.
From 1 January to 31 December 2022, the average home value in the Auckland region went down by 12.3%, compared to a 10.4% average reduction from 1 January to 31 December 2008 – also the last time the region experienced a double-digit calendar year decline.
Papakura (-13.1%), Waitakere (-13%), Auckland City (-12.3%), and Manukau (-11.7%) all averaged double-digit declines last year. Rodney (-8%) and Franklin (-9.3%) were the most resilient of the Super City’s former territorial authorities.
Local QV valuer Hugh Robson commented: “The Auckland market has continued to slow down – a trend that first began in December 2021 and has continued throughout 2022. It’s predicted that this downward trend will continue until at least midway through 2023, as it’s been primarily driven by increasing interest rates and the rising cost of living. Many buyers are now waiting to see how far sale prices will eventually fall.”
“Some agents have reported that numerous ‘cheeky’ offers are now being presented to sellers, while the number of development land sales has also dropped off considerably, indicating developers are now being very cautious due to rising building costs and declining sale prices,” he added.
The Northland region’s housing market proved relatively robust in 2022.
From 1 January until 31 December 2022, the average home value fell 2.2% to $734,459 in the Far North District, dropped 4.5% to $790,781 in Whangarei, and declined 3.1% to $878,430 in Kaipara.
That’s in contrast to the national average home value, which declined 10.3% last year to $944,767.
Tauranga’s rate of home value decline hit a speed bump in December.
Home values increased by an average of 1.1% in the last month of last year, following eight consecutive months of negative home value growth. The city’s three-month rolling average also finished the year just about even, showing only a 0.2% decline since the start of October.
But Tauranga still finished 2022 with home values down 8.3% on average from 1 January until 31 December 2022 – marginally better than after the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, when values dropped by an average of 9.8% over the same period.
QV property consultant Derek Turnwald commented: “Open home attendance has improved in recent months, which is always typical in summer, when properties look better and the weather is more conducive to looking over properties. First home buyers continue to show strong interest in a market that’s receiving very little interest from investors.
“Many investors will be waiting to see if a National government will be voted in this year, as they have promised to reinstate interest as a deductible expense for investment property owners and also re-examine the bright line eligibility and time frames. At present, many investors are finding the returns on their rental investments have been seriously eroded by big increases in interest rates, particularly as many fixed loans come up for renewal.”
The 2022 calendar year could not have been much more different to the one before.
Hamilton home values dropped by an average of 11% in 2022 – a stark contrast to the rapid 29.1% growth the city experienced the year before. As of 1 January 2023, the average home here is now valued at $819,944, which is over $100,000 less than at the same time last year.
Across the wider Waikato region, the largest home value declines on average last year were in Otorohanga (-11.2%), Waikato District (-7.2%), Waipa (-7.4%), and Taupo (-6.6%). Thames-Coromandel District saw the smallest average decline at just 1.9% in 2022.
The latest figures show Hamilton’s rate of home value decline decreased from November to December. “Despite a small month-on-month increase in median house price, I don’t believe this to be the end of the slowing market,” said local QV registered valuer Tom Schicker.
“With inflation not yet at a sustainable level, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand appears set to increase the Official Cash Rate further in an attempt to tame inflation. With interest rates therefore forecasted to increase further throughout 2023, it is likely that the downward pressure on residential property values will remain during 2023.”
Home values continue to decline in Rotorua at an average rate of 3.4% for the quarter.
As of 1 January 2023, the average Rotorua home is now valued at $670,975, which represents a 10.2% average decline over the last year. It’s a stark contrast to the 22.4% growth experienced the year before, and the 13.7% average growth the year before that.
Local QV property consultant Derek Turnwald commented: “First home buyers are showing renewed interest in the local market despite increasing interest rates and difficulties obtaining finance. A very tight labour market with high confidence of job stability and falling house prices have given them renewed confidence. They also have little competition from investors at present.
“However, there are fewer properties listed at the lower, more affordable end of the property ladder while owner-occupiers appear to be hunkering down in the wake of rising interest rates and the increasing cost of living.”
Looking to the year ahead, Mr Turnwald said interest rates would continue to rise if Reserve Bank predictions proved correct, with further declines in home values likely to follow. “Local agents already report that listings have increased a little and that prospective buyers may be sensing that the market correction is maybe nearing an end.
“Generally, there is a sentiment that 2023 may be a little more positive than the last few years. The local Rotorua economy is responding positively to increasing tourism numbers, which will be a welcome relief to a region which has been hit harder than most over the last few years. It’s good to see the CBD has more vibrancy again.”
Home values have so far proven to be far more robust in Taranaki than in most of Aotearoa.
From 1 January to 31 December last year, the average home value fell 2.5% to $729,101 in New Plymouth, dropped 7.9% to $441,784 in South Taranaki, and actually climbed 3.8% to $513,299 in Stratford. In comparison, the average value dropped 10.3% nationally to $944,767.
In the December quarter, values fell across the region by an average of 1.4% – a sharper decline than the 0.4% quarterly drop recorded for November.
Last year could not have been much more different than the one before for the property market in Hawke’s Bay.
Home values fell throughout the wider region by an average of 12.5% over the 12 months of 2022, compared to an average increase of 34.4% over the 12 months of 2021.
In Napier and Hastings, values fell by an average of 11.6% and 13.4% respectively in 2022, compared to gains of 33.7% and 35.4% in 2021. The latest figures show declines of 1.6% and 2.2% this quarter – a slight improvement on the 3.9% decline both cities experienced in the November quarter.
Local QV registered valuer Damien Hall commented: “The rise in interest rates and the Reserve Bank’s OCR hikes saw the market decline quite rapidly initially. The latest stats show house prices still declining but at a slightly lower rate. The residential property market remains fairly subdued overall, with a low level of activity in what is now a buyers’ market.”
“With further OCR hikes looking likely, and a general election looming later this year, history suggests that many prospective buyers will adopt a wait-and-see approach until there is more clarity about the future,” Mr Hall added.
The residential property downturn continues to deepen in Palmerston North.
Home values plummeted by an average of 15.7% last year in Palmerston North – but they still have some way to go before they reach pre-pandemic levels. The average home in Palmerston North increased in value by 20.4% and 28.2% in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
The latest QV House Price Index shows home values slipped another 3.3% during the December quarter to reach a new average of $648,414. That figure is a slight improvement on the 4.4% average decline reported for the November quarter.
Local QV registered valuer Olivia Betts commented: “Palmerston North’s average home value has now fallen below $650,000, following nearly a year of negative home value growth across the city. Interest rates are the main reason for this. They’ve mainly increased throughout the year, adding pressure to affordability. We’re still seeing this decline today in property prices right across the market, in all price brackets.”
Home values fell further in Wellington last year than in any other New Zealand city.
From 1 January to 31 December 2022, the average home value dropped 18.6% to $884,567 – a steeper drop than the national average (-10.3%), Auckland (-12.3%), Hamilton (-11%), Tauranga (-8.3%), Dunedin (-11.3%) and especially Christchurch (-4.1%).
Yet the residential property market still has some way to go before home values are back to pre-pandemic levels. Values also climbed by an average of 19% and 25.5% in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Local QV senior consultant David Cornford commented: “Values continued to fall across the Wellington region during the late part of 2022, but the rate of decline is slowing, which could be a possible indication that we’re getting closer to the bottom of the market now.
“The market is likely to remain subdued in 2023 and further value declines are expected, particularly as interest rates continue to rise and put further pressure on mortgaged home owners. Buyers continue to have plenty of choice and bargaining power in the market.”
Will 2023 turn out to be a calmer, more ‘normal’ year for Nelson’s residential property market following three years of volatility?
From 1 January to 31 December 2022, the average home value in Nelson fell 8.9% to $807,114. Almost the opposite occurred two years prior, in 2020, when values increased by an average of 9.8% during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then they climbed again in 2021 by an average of 23.8%.
QV Nelson/Marlborough manager Craig Russell: “Market confidence was impacted locally by a number of different factors last year, including increasing mortgage rates, and the August weather event. Looking forward, it’s likely that market confidence will continue to be low with further OCR hikes tipped for February, as well as predictions of a looming recession. But we should see a return to a more ‘traditional’ market in the year ahead, relative to all the volatility we’ve seen since the pandemic.”
“It’s likely that we’ll see a reduction in the supply of sections being created locally, as developers look to land bank while there is less demand and costs continue to increase,” he added.
The West Coast was the only region in New Zealand where home values ended last year in the black.
From 1 January to 31 December 2022, values increased by an average of 7% in Grey District ($390,670) and 6.8% in Westland ($417,008), with Buller District ($329,027) recording a much smaller increase of 0.8%. All finished the year well above the national average, which was a 10.3% decline.
Otago and Canterbury were the next best performing regions in 2022, with average home value reductions of 1.9% and 2.2% respectively.
Canterbury’s housing market performed better than most last year, with values falling 8.1% less than the national average.
From 1 January to 31 December 2022, values declined across the wider region by an average of 2.2%, placing it third nationally in terms of home value growth, behind Otago (-1.9%) and the West Coast, which was the only region to record an average increase in 2022.
Local QV registered valuer Olivia Brownie said it was worth noting that decline over the last 12 months followed average home value increases of 10.1% and 38.3% in 2020 and 2021 respectively. “Perhaps we’ve yet to see the full extent of rising interest rates, and increasing household costs on the Canterbury property market,” she said.
“It’s likely certain areas of the property market will continue to see further declines over the coming months. There will be uncertainty until interest rates reach their peak and in due course the market will find a new equilibrium. We would expect more of the same in the coming months due to current economic factors, which may or may not stabilise until the mid-to-later part of 2023.”
In Christchurch, the average home value declined by 4.1% last year, which again is considerably less than most other cities. Values fell in Auckland and Wellington by 12.3% and 18.6% respectively in 2022.
Dunedin’s residential property market had a relatively quiet start to the summer with the average home value slipping 0.4% in the December quarter to $643,564.
Local QV registered valuer Rebecca Johnston commented: “Traditional market activity through spring and into summer has been subdued and sale prices continue to soften as buyers remain hesitant. This softening appears more so for properties requiring maintenance and upgrades, which are also viewed less favourably by lenders.”
She predicted further home value declines in the year ahead – albeit not at the same rate as the year just been, with values falling across the city by an average of 11.3% from 1 January to 31 December 2022.
“The Official Cash Rate is expected to increase further, with interest rates rising along with it and potentially peaking at around 8-9%. This indicates that there may still be some adjustments to house values, though this should not be significant based on the last year of house price decline.”
“Looking further ahead to the later part of 2023, we may even see the tide start to turn for investors, who took a significant step back from the market last year, if a new government is elected later this year,” she added.
Residential property values in Queenstown finished last year 5.9% higher on average.
From 1 January to 31 December 2022, the average house value in Queenstown increased from $1,621,082 to $1,716,081. It marks three consecutive years of growth, with the average home value also increasing by 3.1% and 27.2% in 2020 and 2021 respectively. It experienced no growth in 2019.
Home values increased by an average of 1.3% during the December quarter, making Queenstown one of just three main centres to record positive growth this quarter, alongside Marlborough and Nelson city.
Home values continue to fall in Invercargill, but they still remain well above pre-pandemic levels.
The average home in New Zealand’s southernmost city increased in value by 9.9% in 2020 to $397,155. One year later, it climbed 22.6% to $486,715 during the property boom of 2021. As of 1 January 2023, that figure is now $466,651, representing a 4.1% average decline in 2022.
The latest QV House Price Index shows it has been a relatively slow start to summer, with values down 1.8% on average since October.
With December’s housing figures now finalised, Kaikoura now officially heads the list of provincial centres with the most average home value growth last year at 8%. It’s followed by Grey District (7%) and Westland (6.8%), making it an all South Island top three.
At the other end of the spectrum, Rangitikei and Carterton recorded the most negative home value growth at 20.2% and 19.3% respectively.