House prices lure southerners to Canterbury

The Faringdon subdivision in Rolleston. Photo: Selywn District Council
The Faringdon subdivision in Rolleston. Photo: Selywn District Council
Increasing numbers of frustrated Otago home hunters are heading to Canterbury, lured by newer and more affordable homes, local brokers say.

Dunedin continues to hit records on almost a monthly basis, with growth over the past quarter at 4.9% and annual increases in house values at 18.1%, well ahead of all other main centres, according to Quotable Value (QV) numbers for February.

QV Property consultant Tim Gibson said the average house price in Dunedin was now $530,262, up more than $3000 from just a month ago.

There is no discernible difference in pricing depending on suburbs, with sale prices ranging from $545,379 for the central and northern part of the city to an average price of $493,681 for properties in coastal and peninsula areas — the latter increasing more than 21% on early 2019.

By contrast, average prices across Christchurch had advanced by a more sedate 3.5% to $512,442, following a post earthquake lull, peaking at an average of $710,817 in the Port Hills and a more affordable $460,525 in the Waimakariri District.

CoreLogic head of research Nick Goodall said Dunedin prices had jumped ahead of Christchurch’s for the first time in November 2019, driven largely by demand and a lack of available stock.

LJ Hooker Dunedin licensee and auctioneer Jason Hynes said he had noticed an increasing number of ‘‘mostly older’’ buyers who had decided to relocate for financial reasons.

Helensburgh resident Kath Cole and her husband had been looking to downsize from their large home for the past year and were now ‘‘likely’’ to shift to Christchurch.

‘‘Prices are just unrealistic here. There is a big cross-section of quality, so we think we can get the same-size home in Christchurch for substantially less,’’ she said.

QV senior consultant Kris Rogers said the Christchurch market had a ‘‘relatively positive’’ start to 2020, with first-home buyers leading the charge.

One first-home buyer from Dunedin said he had opted to buy in a new development in Lincoln, outside Christchurch.

‘‘That was after about a year and a-half of heading to open homes and auctions and finding nothing suitable.’’

He said he and his wife had also qualified for the Government’s $10,000 first home grant as a result.

Dunedin brokers say the house price cap under which first-home buyers can qualify for a $5000 grant, was an issue for Dunedin buyers, which were still operating under a $400,000 cap.

First-home buyers in other urban centres like Christchurch and the Selwyn district qualify if they squeak under $500,000 while Auckland and Queenstown Lakes are higher still, at $600,000.

Bayleys Metro Dunedin sales manager Adam Gain said the additional funding was important for first-home buyers who were accessing their KiwiSaver for deposits.

‘‘There are only a handful of properties available at this level in this market,’’ he said.

Mr Hynes said he thought it would not be too long before Dunedin’s limit was increased, considering it is now ‘‘very difficult’’ to secure a property within these parameters.

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