Short commentary on Eastern Suburbs' real estate market statistics for July 2019
(This post was first published to subscribers on 15 August 2019.)
The biggest buzz in the real estate market today is undoubtedly the RBNZ choosing to shave off 50 basis points from the Official Cash Rate. The last time this happened, the Global Finance Crisis was in full bloom and the world looked like it was going to pieces (the financial world at least).
The banks are already reacting to this surprise with mortgage cuts but full cuts remain to be seen.
Savers and retirees relying on the term deposits to fund their retirement will certainly be unhappy and thinking about their next moves. The Reserve Bank is even talking about negative interest rates (already present in Scandinavian countries and Japan).
But would be buyers and homeowners are reacting with glee, with even more anticipation of further cuts. But such borrower optimisim may be too early…there’s a key point to note which I cover in detail below: serviceability assessments remain unchanged which impacts on the borrowing capacity.
If you are impatient (!), you can skip to the relevant sections:
– Eastern Suburbs’ (Orakei, Mission Bay, Remuera, St Heliers, Glendowie, Kohimarama, Meadowbank, Glen Innes St Johns, Stonefields) market statistics and general observations
Auckland's property market statistics for July 2019
Compared to June 2019
Compared to July 2018
- Median price down 2.4%
- Sales count up 6.6%
- Days to sell decreased by 5 days
- Median price did not change
- Sales count up 1.2%
- Days to sell increased by 3 days
The Auckland property market underwent a shift in July with property sales prices falling and sales numbers rising. A little strange given the typical winter season where July sales numbers will fall whereas sale prices will remain stagnant.
But the fall in prices remain relatively modest in the case of the median price at $830,000 (down $20,000 from June 2019). This was partly contributed by a relatively high number of sales of homes in the under $500,000 price range. The higher number of apartment and terrace housing sales are showing through these statistics – a clear sign of the increasing popularity of such products with home buyers.
In terms of volume, July resulted in sales numbers at 1894, being 1.2 percent ahead of those in June, 6.6 percent ahead of those for July last year. It’s a clear sign that buyers are coming back to the market, especially if you are considering that we are moving through the winter season. A rising number of house sales is a reliable sign of stronger price action to come, suggesting a general housing market pick up.
Buyers are certainly becoming more tentative in their buying patterns, with the median days on the market being 44 days (increase from 41 days in July 2018), and a greater number choosing to add conditions such as finance or for the sale of their property before they can go unconditional on their new place.
The Australian property market is heating up
When you look at our cousins across the ditch, Bloomberg is reporting about a ‘heating up’ of the housing market after a 2-year slide. This was attributed to 3 factors:
- the central bank’s back-to-back interest rate cuts which have pushed mortgage rates to record lows
- the regulator’s loosening of mortgage stress tests
- the surprise re-election of Scott Morrison’s government in May, which killed off the opposition Labour party’s plans to wind back tax breaks for property investors.”
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Australia’s largest home lender also says the housing market has turned the corner. This doesn’t mean that the New Zealand market will most certainly follow the Australian market as many factors (for e.g. the surplus in apartments) differ. But certainly one to watch.
Remember: follow the money.
Now, looking back at New Zealand and Auckland in particular, we now know that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand has cut interest rates to record low. The magnitude of the recent cuts is also of great interest – with the last cut of 50 basis points occurring in the Global Financial Crisis. Obviously, no one is saying that we are in the middle of the GFC or anything remotely like that time.
Such interest rate cuts could boost buyers’ confidence, and thereby enticing them back into the market and start making offers, and may likely put an end to the ‘wait-and-see’ mood in the market. However, it may very well not have a huge impact at all, especially at the lower price range of the market since the difference in weekly mortgage payment is likely to be a couple of dollars. The spring housing market is therefore a close one to watch, especially when banks start competing for market share in the spring housing market and offer truly enticing rate cuts. So if you are thinking about negotiating your interest rates, perhaps hold on your horses till September.
But it’s important to know that interest rate cuts are only one piece of the puzzle. The banks’ serviceability tests are the more critical (and often neglected) reason for the housing market’s slowdown.
For the uninitiated, when banks assess mortgage applications, they use qualifying/assessment rates which can be considerably higher than the actual rates being paid (rather than assessing servicing off the actual interest rates that are being advertised) to make sure that you can afford to service the mortgage.
Therefore if such qualifying/assessment rates do not change, the actual interest rate reductions do not benefit potential buyers (other than those who already have a mortgage or are pre-qualified) who cannot qualify for such loans in the first place. Industry insiders are certainly expecting the New Zealand banks to change such qualifying rates. If that happens, expect the housing market to start sizzling like the turn of the weather into summer.
Eastern Suburbs' market statistics and general observations
Covering the real estate market of Orakei, Mission Bay, Kohimarama, St Heliers, Glendowie, Remuera, Meadowbank, Glen Innes, St Johns, Stonefields and Wai O Taiki Bay
Note 1: Suburbs with less than 5 sales will not have the median property price displayed for statistical and privacy reasons. Also, note that the median property price for each suburb may see large fluctuations given the relatively low number of sales on a monthly basis.
Note 2: The REINZ uses unconditional sales data (when the price is agreed) rather than at settlement, which can often be weeks later. It is therefore more accurate and timely.
Trends in Orakei, Mission Bay, Kohimarama, St Heliers, Glendowie, Remuera, Meadowbank, Glen Innes, St Johns, Stonefields and Wai O Taiki Bay real estate markets
The Eastern Bays and Remuera suburbs have instead seen an uplift in prices and shorter median days to sell as compared to same time last month. The number of transactions have fallen from previous month’s, not surprising given that stock is very low this winter. Buyers have been lamenting that there are simply no new listings coming up.
However, as we say goodbye to the rain and hail, we are seeing more activity in the market and more properties coming back on. Buyers are still out there making offers so make sure you are not missing out on quite a few good deal out there in the market!
So Is Now A Good Time To...
Sell In The Eastern Bays and Remuera?
With the increasing number of buyers coming back to the market, demonstrating inherent confidence, now can be a good time to get ahead of the traditional summer selling season and list your property (but only if you choose the best real estate salesperson for yourself).
Here are 3 reasons why:
When selling your property, you need to remember that competition is key. Remember, when your home goes on the market, it does not go in isolation. It is always in competition from neighbouring similar properties. Now, the lesser competition in the early spring market will likely bode well for you, especially if your property is well presented. Buyers only have a certain amount of time and energy to visit that many open homes. If there are 5 similar houses to choose in summer vs just 2 in spring, you stand a much better chance of having your house visited with an offer.
Similar to the first point, you can likely sell under less competition, with a long settlement date. Then you can go ahead and pick from a wider variety of choices in the summer selling season in a much stronger cash unconditional buying position.
Buyers’ competition – with more buyers actively looking in the market, this can only mean one thing if your house is well-marketed and you can get competing offers: higher prices. But a word of caution: buyers (and their banks) today are still picky (and getting pickier). We are still not in a market where there’s widespread “fear of missing out” and buyers will just buy simply anything. What this means is you need (1) an agent who is dedicated and hardworking enough to pursue any interest, (2) an agent who is culturally aware and can navigate and overcome cultural nuances that may be lost in translation and (3) an agent who can negotiate and overcome any objections with ease.
I’ve previously covered in detail the factors going into your decision as to whether you should sell or buy first in the current market, along with this key trick.
For Landlords To Note
Tenant Liability for Damage – good news!
The changes limit tenants’ liability for careless damage in rental properties to maximum of 4 weeks’ rent or the landlord’s insurance excess (whichever is lower). Previously, this was not claimable (or hard to be claimed) under the Osaki case. As such, you should be looking at your insurance policy closely at the time of renewal and make sure that your excess matches or exceeds the 4 weeks’ equivalent of rental income.
Landlords will have to provide insurance information in any new tenancy agreement or provide them within a reasonable time if being asked for in existing tenancy agreements. In the case of careless damage, insurance companies will not be able to pursue tenants on the landlord’s behalf for the cost of damage (unless the damage was intentional or the result of an act or omission that constitutes an imprisonable offence).
If they don’t provide this information, or if they don’t tell tenants, in writing, within a reasonable time if this information changes, they may be liable for a financial penalty of up to $500. Tenants on existing tenancies will be able to ask their landlords for this insurance information, and this must also be provided within a reasonable time.
Unlawful Residential Premises
The new Act gives the Tenancy Tribunal full jurisdiction over cases concerning premises that are unlawful for residential purposes, such as garages and sleep-outs, which don’t meet minimum requirements for renting. This is meant to protect tenants living in those premises under the Residential Tenancies Act. It also gives Tenancy Services the ability to take enforcement action against landlords who rent properties which don’t meet minimum standards.
Contamination Of Premises
New regulations will be developed to prescribe the acceptable level for methamphetamine contamination, processes for testing and decontamination of rental properties.
If you are thinking that the obligations on landlords are getting onerous and that the regulations around residential properties are reaching too far in favour of tenants, then you are not the only one. There are definitely more things you need to do as a landlord than before so if you would rather not have to deal with the hassle as the income is not worth it (lots of my clients are moving to commercial properties), then perhaps it’s time to sell.
Buy In The Eastern Bays and Remuera?
One word: Competition.
Buyers will now face increasing competition. This is borne out by increased open home numbers, especially in homeowners in the recent properties that I’ve sold, and what my Ray White team has been seeing.
- At price ranges below a million, buyers are surprisingly active and have been ticking up.
- Anything that’s above $1 million but below $2 million, buyers are still appearing and far more reticent and selective, but I’ve certainly observed a pick up in the number of buyers recently.
And with lower interest rates and the volume of sales increasing over what is traditionally a slow winter selling season, this is clear indication that buyers’ interest is gradually picking back up.
So let me help you out here as much as I can.
If you are going to go for an auction, then you must read my exclusive buyer auction guide.
If you are entering into a ‘price by negotiation’ or fixed price/offers above or deadline sale situation, then you should read the following:
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I have detailed statistics at my fingertips, including recent sales within the Eastern Suburbs (or any suburbs), so do not hesitate to contact me for a no-obligation discussion over coffee on your future plans to either buy or sell.