New Zealand house price fall steadies in November
Reuters - 2 hours 1 minute ago
WELLINGTON, Dec 8 - New Zealand house prices continued to fall in November, though the pace of decline steadied in a sign that the market may be levelling out, government agency Quotable Value said on Monday.
QV's residential house price index was down 6.8 percent in the year through Nov. 30, unchanged from October's annual decline, and compared with a 5.8 percent annual fall in September.
"Most of the 6.8 percent decline in annual values occured during the winter months and we may be seeing signs of a slight spring recovery," QV spokesman Blue Hancock said in a statement.
It was the first time since August 2007 that the index had not fallen on the previous month.
House values were now back at March 2007 levels but most people who had bought before then were still showing value gains, Hancock said.
The housing market, once a key inflationary concern for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand , has been falling steadily through this year in the face of high borrowing costs and as consumer spending slowed in the face of higher food and petrol prices.
The central bank slashed interest rates by a record 150 basis points last week to a five-year low, to help lift the economy out of recession, and said further smaller rate cuts were possible.
RBNZ Governor Alan Bollard said he expected home lenders to pass on lower rates to consumers, but said he also expected house prices to fall further next year.
The RBNZ has forecast prices to fall around 16 percent by the end of 2010 from their peak in 2007, but has also said it expects mortgage rates to fall around 150 basis points over the next two years.
QV said any recovery in the housing market would be tentative and slow.
"While interest rates continue to fall sharply tighter lending criteria may be dampening any immediate impact on the property market," said Hancock.
QV said house prices in Auckland, the biggest population and commercial centre, fell 7.4 percent from a year ago compared with a 7.7 percent drop in October, while the capital, Wellington, fell 6 percent after a 6.1 percent drop the month before.
The average sale price was down slightly at NZ$375,408 .
The monthly residential price report is based on sale prices of properties over the past three months compared with sales over the corresponding three-month period a year earlier. The data is not seasonally adjusted.
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