WELLINGTON, March 8 New Zealand house prices
showed further signs of stabilisation in February, although the
market is patchy and the city of Christchurch will be hit for
months by February's devastating earthquake, property valuer
Quotable Value (QV) said on Tuesday.
QV's residential house price index fell 1.7 percent in the
year to February after a 1.5 percent decline in the year to
January. However, the index improved slightly compared to the
"Overall the property market remains subdued with lower than
normal numbers of listings and sales being the main signs of
buyer and seller caution," said QV research director Jonno
"However, there are pockets of the market that remain
active, particularly in the main centres," he said.
The housing market was in decline most of 2010 before
flattening out in the latter part of the year and into early
2011. The market remains 5.6 percent below its peak in late
The average sale price over the three months to February
rose 0.6 percent to NZ$411,712 ($302,729) compared to a month
Activity in Christchurch, New Zealand's second largest city,
was expected to suffer in the coming months after a devastating
earthquake on Feb 22 destroyed much of the city, just five month
after a major quake had already done major damage.
"The much more widespread damage caused by the February
quake will again cause sales activity to slow for several weeks
or even months," Ingerson said, adding it was too early to say
what the effect on the value of undamaged houses will be.
Official estimates suggest as many as 10,000 houses may have
to be abandoned as the quake - which has an official death toll
of 166 although that number is expected to rise - has damaged
the land too severely to rebuild.
New Zealand households have been paying down debt and kept a
tight rein on spending over the past year, which has resulted in
weak retail sales and pressure on the housing market.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is picked to lower interest
rates when it meets on Thursday, with the economy struggling to
gain momentum before the quake, which is expected to hit growth
over the next five years. See and
House prices in Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city, were
0.4 percent lower than a year ago and have been stable for the
past few months, while in the capital Wellington the sharp
decline of last year has flattened with prices 2.7 percent
New Zealand home lending rates have been low and stable over
the past six months because of the uncertain central bank rate
(Reporting by Adrian Bathgate; Editing by Balazs Koranyi)