Some first-home buyers are entering the property market because it’s almost as affordable to own as it is to rent in some parts of the country, QV says.
QV general manager David Nagel said first-home buyer activity was increasing in Wellington and Dunedin.
People were taking advantage of the ability to use their KiwiSaver funds as a deposit.
“The higher proportion of first-home buyer activity is largely due to rising rents, which mean it can often be as affordable to purchase an entry-level home and pay a mortgage, as it is to rent a home.
“However, for many, raising a deposit is still a bridge too far to cross to be able to gain entry into the housing market.”
In Wellington, the average QV value of $642,156 would cost $1385 a fortnight on a 25-year mortgage at 5 per cent interest, with a 20 per cent deposit.
Trade Me said the median weekly asking rent in Wellington was $485 in March.
In Dunedin, the average value of $404,539 would cost $873 a fortnight. That compares to a median rent of $300 a week for central Dunedin, according to Tenancy Services.
The numbers aren’t quite as close in New Zealand’s biggest city. In Auckland, the average value of $1.051 million would cost $2267 a fortnight, with a 20 per cent deposit.
The average rent for a four-bedroom home, according to Barfoot & Thompson, is $693.
Auckland senior consultant James Steele said first-home buyers were looking for houses under $600,000, to get the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant.
“Those unwilling to compromise on size or locations are finding these criteria difficult to meet,” he said.
“Listings are staying on the market for a longer period of time and fewer properties are going at auction, providing more opportunity to negotiate and place conditional offers which is benefiting buyers.”
Wellington senior consultant David Cornford said it was still a sellers’ market in the capital.
A new townhouse development, Paetutu, almost sold out in a week, he said.
“These off-the-plan properties sold before the official marketing launch and before formal marketing commenced with most of the buyers learning of the development through The Professionals mailing list.
“The townhouses are priced in the mid-$500,000s and it highlights the strong demand for affordable housing in Wellington, we understand the majority were sold to owner occupiers.
“First-home buyers are motivated to purchase with both rising rental costs and access to their KiwiSaver funds for deposits. We continue to see strong demand in this segment of the market.”
He said the “student surge” into Wellington had settled but the rental market remained tight and there had been a significant uplift in rent levels over the last 12 months, particularly in Lower Hutt.
Christchurch property consultant Hamish Collins said well-maintained properties were selling well, although this often depended on whether the seller was willing to negotiate.
Year-on-year, QV’s House Price Index is up 7.6 per cent. Auckland’s prices were up just 0.8 per cent compared to last year. Napier had the fastest annual rate of price growth, up 17.6 per cent in the 12 months to April.
That was followed by Hastings and Invercargill.
Nagel said people were looking for a different lifestyle in smaller areas, which boosted their prices.
“Particularly those that are within commutable distances of major centres.
“Values across the Auckland Region and Wellington City have dropped over the past quarter.”
He said price growth was flat in Christchurch while Hamilton, Tauranga and Dunedin had moderately rising prices.
Cheaper to rent?
Based on an 80 per cent mortgage on the average QV house value, and Trade Me median rent.
Napier: Rent: $800 Own: $1214
Hamilton: Rent: $790 Own: $1196
Whangarei: Rent: $800 Own: $1105
Nelson: Rent: $840 Own:$1214