All eight of our main measures of sentiment in the residential real estate sector have eased off in March after rising firmly in some instances in February. On balance one could not say nationwide that it is a buyer’s or a seller’s market though in Auckland it is still a seller’s market with a net 9% feeling that buyers are more motivated, and in Canterbury a net 14% of responding agents feel the buyers are more motivated than sellers.
Nationwide a net 31% of agents feel that prices are rising with Auckland at a net 37%, Canterbury 52%, and Wellington 40%. A net 44% of agents still say that they are seeing fewer first home buyers compared with 40% last month and a net 24% seeing more first home buyers in September – just before the new credit controls came into force. However a net 15% of agents say that they are seeing more investors.
On average agents report that 19% of their sales are to investors which is the same as a year ago. But they report 17% of sales to first home buyers from 24% a year ago.
This month we repeated our question regarding foreign purchasing of NZ residential property, last asked in May last year. Last year our smallest response category was “Less than 10%” of sales to offshore buyers. This time we changed that to Zero, 0-5%, and 5-10%. The outcome is 6.4% of sales are to people offshore. Using last year’s ‘Less than 10%” definition would have yielded an outcome of 9.3%. Given that in March last year our outcome was 9.2% of sales to people offshore and in May 7.8% one would struggle, statistically-speaking, to conclude that there is a lift or decline in foreign buying of NZ houses.