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House prices drop in Auckland, rocket in Wairoa

Growth in house prices nationally continues to slow and prices in parts of the Auckland region are actually falling.

But there are still some hot spots at the top and at the bottom of the market.

Queenstown Lakes, the only region outside Auckland with million dollar average house prices, saw them grow a further 8.1 percent on a year ago, to $1.2 million, according to the latest Quotable Value data.

At the other end of the scale in Kawerau, for example, house prices were up 28.5 percent in February on a year ago, but were still worth an average of less than $250,000.

In the Hawkes Bay town of Wairoa, the cheapest in the country, annual growth was 27 percent, and an average house cost a tad over $200,000.

The average house in the Auckland region is down 0.9 percent to $1.04 million. Nationwide it's up 3 percent to $686,050, 

Although QV says the figures are for February, its index is based on settled house sales and are prepared on a three-month rolling average basis, so its data can include house sales that went unconditional as long ago as November or even earlier.

The Real Estate Institute’s monthly data, which records unconditional sale agreements in February and so is more timely, will probably be released next week.

Auckland’s eastern suburbs, including Parnell, Newmarket and Remuera, contain the country’s most expensive real estate with an average house price of $1.56 million, though that’s down 0.6 percent from a year ago.

The largest falls within the Auckland region were on the North Shore, down 2 percent, with coastal North Shore property values down 3.1 percent.

“Our latest figures paint a bit of a mixed picture. On the one hand, we’ve got more affordable, smaller provincial towns which are still in their upward growth stage, while the likes of Auckland are much further down their growth lifecycle and now seeing values flatten after a period of sustained growth,” says QV general manager David Nagel.

Satellite areas around the Auckland region are still showing above-average growth, with prices in Whangarei up 6.1 percent from a year ago and Hamilton up 5.8 percent.

In Wellington city, values are up 7.9 percent to an average $824,029 from a year ago, with pockets surrounding the capital growing at double-digit rates. Upper Hutt house values were up 13.9 percent and in Palmerston North they grew 14.2 percent.

In Christchurch, the average house price was up 0.1 percent to $495,089, while in Dunedin, it was up 14.3 percent to $449,023 from a year earlier.

Nagel says Dunedin “continues to attract a broad range of first home buyers and investors due to its value for money."

He says investors remain fairly active. "I’ll be closely watching how investor behaviour changes in the coming months as we gain more certainty around the government’s stance on the recommendations put forward by the Tax Working Group,” Nagel says.

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