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No sign of a new housing bubble, says REINZ

House prices are flat lining and volumes are well below the boom years, says the Real Estate Institute.

Chris Hutching
Wed, 30 May 2012

The Real Estate Institute is downplaying speculation about another housing bubble.

The speculation has been fed by a lift in house prices and volumes in recent months, and confidence surveys suggesting residential real estate is back in favour.

It also comes as Opposition political parties again raise the spectre of a capital gains tax.

But institute chief executive Helen O’Sullivan says turnover remains well below the boom years of 2001-07, and below most of the 1990s.

During much of the 1990s the average turnover was just under 6% as a percentage of total residential dwellings and dipped to around 4.5% in 2000.

The highest turnover was at the beginning of 2004 at about 7.5%, easing over the next three years until plummeting at the end of 2007 to its lowest level of 3.5% in mid-2008.

Turnover has since recovered marginally but continues to hover around this level.

“To be a ‘boom’, sales volumes would have to get back to a level of turnover of more than 6%," Ms O'Sullivan says.

"In the 12 months to April this would have required a total of 104,500 houses to have sold. In fact, just fewer than 66,000 houses were sold in the year to April, leaving a gap of about 38,500 houses to reach ‘boom’ territory.

“To look at it another way, 60% more houses would need to be sold than are currently selling for the housing market to ‘boom’,” she says.

But prices, especially in Auckland, are at record levels.

Ms O’Sullivan says this is because the previous records were largely set five years ago.

Inflation has risen about 15% while prices on average have remained steady over that time, therefore the real cost of housing is about the same as five years ago.

Another measure is the number of days it takes to sell a house. These figures are closer to the 2001-07 boom than the 1990s but are still below them by a good margin.

“There are certainly pressures building in some parts of the housing market, noticeably in Auckland and Christchurch.

"But those effects are more likely to be due to the loss of housing stock as a result of the Canterbury Earthquakes and the well-known lack of new house building in Auckland over the past few years," she says.

“It’s also important to bear in mind that this is an analysis on national trends and prices. Different segments of regional and national markets can report substantially different results, depending on local factors."

According to data compiled by Global Property Guide, housing prices worldwide fell in 24 of the 36 countries for which quarterly house price statistics are available, and rose in only 12.

Home loan affordability in NewZealand improved again slightly in April as the national median house price fell and interest rates remained at record low levels.

The Roost Home Loan Affordability monthly reports show affordability for young working couples remains near its best levels in almost eight years, although it remains difficult in central Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Chris Hutching
Wed, 30 May 2012
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No sign of a new housing bubble, says REINZ
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