Dunedin's median house price was up slightly in January to
$249,000, but January sales, at 143, were down on
December's 170. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
House prices and sales for January were up respectively
more than 7% and 20% on a year ago, further fuelling anxiety
over pressures building in the under-supplied housing market.
Nationally, house sales for January were up 11.5% compared
with December and up 21% on a year ago, while the house price
index was up 1% from December, and 7.2% on a year ago,
according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data
Otago reflected the national swing, with prices and sales a
year ago moving from $225,500 to $234,500 and numbers up from
176 to 196 home sales.
In the separate Central Otago Lakes region data, prices and
sales were down slightly, but the Queenstown component saw
prices swing from $499,000 a year ago to $562,500, with
volumes down from 35 a year ago to 34.
Nationally, 4933 homes sold during January, the median price
up 4.2% to $370,000; easing from the December record of
$389,000. ASB senior economist Jane Turner said the Reserve
Bank had become ''increasingly nervous around housing market
developments'' and the recent acceleration in credit demand.
''Figures for December and January suggest demand remains
firm, while supply is still low ... we can expect further
price increases in the coming months,'' she said. The Reserve
Bank would be watching these developments closely, mindful of
the risks to inflation and financial stability.
While Ms Turner said she expected the Reserve Bank to leave
the interest-driving official cash rate, at a record 2.5%
low, untouched until March next year, she suggested the
central bank might use ''macro prudential tools later this
year in order to try ease housing market pressures''.
The Reserve Bank's four tools are the banks' core funding
ratios, counter-cyclical capital buffers, sectorial risk
weightings and loan to value limits.
''The most likely tool the Reserve Bank would use in this
case is minimum loan to value ratios,'' she said.
Reinz director Liz Nidd, of Dunedin, said while Otago sales
rose 11% on a year ago, , the sales volumes were down 15%,
led by declines in Dunedin and North Otago.
''The number of listings remains a concern, with the result
that the trend in prices is moving up,'' she said.
Westpac's chief economist, Dominick Stephens, said the
January data ''portrayed a housing market that has continued
to heat up''. The seasonally adjusted number of Reinz house
sales was up 3.5% in January, and is 21% higher than a year
He noted house price inflation had continued to accelerate,
saying the Reinz house price index was now 7.2% higher than a
year ago, and Quotable Value's index was 6.2% higher.
''There have been further signs that markets are becoming
more buoyant across New Zealand, not just in Auckland and
Canterbury. The volume of house sales has risen at least 10%
over the past year in all regions of New Zealand, except
Taranaki,'' he said.
Compared with a year ago, the sales volume in Otago was up
11.3%, Auckland rose 27%, Southland sales 40% and Northland's