Record median house prices in Otago, Southland

 Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Bindi Norwell says the housing market has...
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Bindi Norwell says the housing market has two tiers at the moment. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Otago and Southland are among five regions in the country reporting record median house price gains for January, as Auckland and Canterbury prices continue to ease.

The Reserve Bank's easing of its loan to value ratio (LVR) requirements and the ban on foreign buyers appears to be having little effect in Dunedin and Queenstown.

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand is describing the country's real estate market as "two-tier", as Auckland and Canterbury prices decline, while the rest of New Zealand shows strong annual price growth.

Dunedin and Waitaki had prices rise 12.3% and 25.4% respectively, while in Southland, Gore prices rose by 26.2% and Invercargill 16.1%.

Nationally, the median time to sell went up two days to 48, the longest selling time for any month since February 2012.

REINZ regional commentator Liz Nidd said Waitaki's $350,000 median price was a record for the region.

"Residential house purchasers are still the dominant force in the market, with many investors either selling or holding steady," she said.

She said the LVR changes appeared to be having little effect in Dunedin at present, as housing demand was already larger than supply.

The number of properties available for sale nationally decreased by 2.5% from 25,503 to 24,878, down by 625 properties compared to 12 months ago - the largest decrease in the past five months.

However, Otago had one of largest percentage declines, down 32.1% from 730 houses to 496, or 234 fewer properties.

While Queenstown Lakes posted a $30,000 gain on last year's median price to $940,000, it had plunged back $75,000 on the more than $1million median prices reported from December.

REINZ regional director in Queenstown, Gail Hudson, said there was a 4% increase in the number of properties sold in January, against December, from 50 to 52.

That suggested the foreign buyer ban was having little impact on the usual holiday sales volumes activity, she said.

"First-home buyers remain active as the prices are strong and they fear missing out on getting into the market," she said.

However, investors were also active and combined with firm prices, that was adding some pressure for first home buyers, Mrs Hudson said.

She said inquiries were "positive" and open home attendances reflected increasing activity.

REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said January's data pointed to a two-tier market continuing around the country, as Auckland and Canterbury experienced a slowing in prices.

"But the rest of the country has seen strong price growth, including five regions achieving record median prices," she said.

Those price increases were again highlighting how the lack of supply was continuing to push up house prices, so it was essential that the country as a whole addressed this fundamental issue "sooner rather than later", she said.

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