NZ House prices: 100 consecutive months of rises

Terraced houses in Adam St in the Dunedin suburb of City Rise. Photo: Google Maps
Terraced houses in Adam St in the Dunedin suburb of City Rise. Photo: Google Maps
New Zealand house prices have not fallen since the 2011 Rugby World Cup - that's a "staggering" 100 consecutive months of year-on-year rises.

Or to put it another way, prices haven't fallen since the year the deadly Christchurch earthquake hit and Prince William married Kate Middleton.

It meant that in every month since October 2011, national prices have climbed higher than the same time a year earlier, new analysis from the Real Estate Institute showed.

It's sent New Zealand's median house price skyrocketing from $359,000 in October 2011 to $615,000 this January - a 71.3 per cent increase.

And the nine-year run seems set to continue after prices this January also leapt 12 per cent year-on-year, Real Estate Institute chief executive Bindi Norwell said.

"Having house prices increase for 100 months in a row across the country is staggering," she said.

Yet while it may be great news for homeowners and investors, the staggering rise has pushed first-home buyers to take on ever more debt in a bid to get on the property ladder.

New data by the Reserve Bank showed 40 per cent of first-home buyers who took out a new home loan last month had deposits of less than 20 per cent of the loan value.

When combined with increasing property prices it has left many exposed to huge debts and interest repayments.

"As with every story, there's always two sides," Norwell said.

"For homeowners, they are likely to be pleased with the capital growth of their property – particularly if they're planning on upgrading in the short to medium term. But for many people it shows just how unaffordable buying a house has become."

First-home buyers needed help from innovative new ideas, such as rent to buy and shared-ownership models as well as financial grants and savings schemes, she said.

Norwell said the housing market's incredible run had been driven by prices soaring in different regions at different times.

In 2011, house price increases were strongest in Marlborough, Tasman and Otago, before Auckland and Canterbury led the pack from late 2012 through to 2015.

In the past three years, the Manawatū-Whanganui region has been the strongest.

The REI figures followed yesterday's OneRoof Property Report and its look at the suburbs with the most "untapped equity".

"We found 402 suburbs across New Zealand that saw median value growth between 2014 and 2019 of more than $250,000 - the amount of money someone on the average wage would have earned in the same time period," OneRoof property editor Owen Vaughan said.

Property advisers urged homeowners who haven't sold since then to put that huge amount of potential "untapped equity" to work.

People with enough equity in their home, who meet a bank's criteria, can use that paper value instead of a cash deposit to buy an investment property or bach.

But the fish hook is that if you can't make the repayments on your second property, the bank could force you to sell your home as it was the deposit guarantee.

Across the country, Kumeu's lifestyle block owners were the biggest winners.

Their properties typically rose $950,000 in the past five years and had a low resale rate, meaning many people still owned the same properties from 2014 and were potentially sitting on close to a million dollars of untapped equity.

Herne Bay was Auckland's next biggest potential equity goldmine due to its low resale rate and $815,000 in value gain since 2014, followed by Omaha, where values had risen $725,000.

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