Property Dashboard for September

by Alistair Helm in


I revised the format of the Property Dashboard a couple of months ago now and have received good feedback as to the interest people have in it, how they are using it, and how it could be further improved.

One change I have made for this report and for all future reports, a change which has been forced upon me is that I have ceased to use the data from the monthly Realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report. I had been relying on this report for inventory data. However this report has become less reliable over the past few months. It was originally a report which was published on the very first day of each month as the most up-to-date view of property market trends, sadly it no longer seems to hold the same priority in the company and its publication is often the last published report of the month. For this month, it appears to have been released to the media but no copy has been published online, nor data set of tables made available.

I find this disappointing to see such a valuable insight be ignored and wither. I fortunately have been collecting for the past few months a weekly set of inventory data which I will now use as a mean inventory for each month. In this way I can publish the Property Dashboard solely from the REINZ data and supplemented by data I collect myself.


September Property Dashboard

So what can we see as emerging trends from this month's dashboard covering all of the 16 regions and cities across the country?

From a national perspective we see a market still constrained by a tight inventory of available property for sale matched to a healthy pace of sales and prices that whilst easing from higher still show an 8% year on year growth.

Here's a quick one-liner for all the regions, check out more details on each regions own dashboard.

Northland shows a stable market with just a slight concern over low inventory

Auckland is still a tight sellers' market, there is some easing but not much so buyers beware

Waikato is a very active market favouring sellers with still strong price inflation

Bay of Plenty is definitely a sellers market, its tough for buyers

Gisborne is a balanced market with some price pressure

Hawkes Bay is a well balanced market although there is pressure on inventory

Taranaki is a challenging market with high price growth despite ample inventory

Manawatu / Wanganui is a balanced market but is seeing prices falling

Wellington is a well balanced market enjoying a good pace of sales with little price pressure

Nelson is moving into a sellers' market as faster pace of sales meets low inventory

Marlborough is a well balanced market with the pace of sales picking up

Canterbury is a very strong sellers' market as it has been for a long period

West Coast is a very slow property market yet with a high price inflation

Central Otago is a sellers' market with very strong sales pace and tight inventory

Otago is a well balanced market with neither buyer nor seller advantage

Southland is a challenging market especially for sellers, buyer approach cautiously!

 


New Property Dashboard brings greater clarity to the state of the property market

by Alistair Helm in , , ,


The current Property Dashboard has proved to be of great value to buyers, sellers and agents alike as over the past 15 months it has grown to be one of the most accessed (and thereby hopefully valuable) parts of this site.

However I have felt that whilst its simplicity of design has been appealing, its measure of the market based purely on inventory was somewhat limiting. To really get a sense of "what's happening in the property market?" needs a view into two other key metrics to add to the available inventory of properties on the market. These are the pace of the market and the trend in prices.

I have therefore undertaken an upgrade to the Property Dashboard and extended it from a single gauge to 3 gauges.

I have in addition to adding these two new gauges for 'pace of the market' and 'price' adopted a consistent approach to the colour segments so a to ensure that each colour represents a consistent state of the market seen across the three measures of the market as detailed below:

Properazzi Property Dashboard - June 2014.png

I have at the same time undertaken more analysis of the 5 years of data from Realestate.co.nz from their monthly NZ Property Report and the REINZ data for the same 5 year period to ensure the segments of each gauge reflecting the Stable Market / Declining Market / Heated Market are reflective of the current state of the market

An important differentiation of the new Property Dashboard is that the core data-set for price trend and pace of sales uses 12 months moving averages. By use of this measure, the dashboard will not present erratic swings month-by-month but will reflect a trend that can be seen month-on-month providing a better evaluation of the current state as well as the emerging trend of each market across the country. 

The new Property Dashboard is published for each of the 16 regions of the country for where consistent data is available from REINZ and Realestate.co.nz. Unfortunately due to changes made to the monthly reporting by REINZ, regional data for dashboards of the Coromandel region, the Wairarapa and the Central North Island regions are no longer available.

The Property Dashboard will be updated monthly upon the release of the relevant data from REINZ and Realestate.co.nz which is likely to be around the middle of the month.

 

Property Dashboards for all regions of New Zealand



Property sales - the end of the golden summer?

by Alistair Helm in


Courtesy Flickr - James Watkins

Courtesy Flickr - James Watkins

Residential property sales for 2013 totalled 80,119 as reported by the Real Estate Institute. This total is down by a third from the peak of sales in 2004 when 120,000 a year was a more typical level as highlighted in the chart below which tracks sales over this last 10 years as measured on a 12 month moving annual total. The 80,000 level whilst clearly no where near a return to those heady days, is though up 50% from the lowest point of the market in early 2009.

NZ sales to Dec 13.png

 

Sales have been in a steady and sustained recovery for a period of 30 months, the longest sustained growth period of the past 10 years, however that period of growth appears to be coming to an end as total sales appear to be plateauing at around 80,000. The past 2 months have seen the rate of growth turn negative as that plateau - real or imagined is reached.

Growth rate in property sales.png

 

Where to from here is the key question and why is it, that the level of sales has not returned to the pre-GFC levels of 100,000+?

The latter question is easier answered than the former. The banks and lending institutions are approaching residential property with a tighter control than they did in the mid 2000's, added to which property owners and prospective owners have come through the very real experience of property price falls, a phenomena that until recently was judged to be something that happened in other countries and to other people. A final consideration is that a significant portion of the sales in those early years of the first decade of the 21st century were a function of private investors keen to buy any property for rent based on the simple premise of banking the 'guaranteed' capital gain and writing off the 'paper loss' against tax. That approach to property investing especially by naive amateurs has been shown to be far riskier than was thought at that time.

So what of the future? - are we really at the end of the golden summer in terms of sales volumes? - has the Reserve Bank and its rules around LVR's finally had the desired effect of constraining the market? 

To better understand this requires a closer examination of the state of the market matching supply and demand across the country and in the major cities. The level of inventory as an indicator of available properties for sale as reported in the monthly Property Dashboard based on the Realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report is a good guide however seeing the trend over a 2 year period provides a clearer picture.

For this reason I have tracked the respective trends in sales volumes on a quarterly basis, year-on-year against the number of new listings over the past 2 years. The red bars reflect the trend in property sales, with the grey bars the trend in new listings.

NZ sales & listings.png

 

The picture for the whole of NZ shows the tailing off of property sales. A year ago sales were up 27% against the prior quarter of 2011 with listings up 4% - in the last quarter of 2103 sales were down 6% whilst listings were up 2% - this would indicate as the intermediary quarters show, the market is lessening its tight grip as a sellers' market and entering a more balanced period - a period that should allow buyers to breath a bit more easily and require sellers to be more pragmatic to buyer demand which in the past couple of years they have taken for granted.

Looking at Auckland specifically, the picture is somewhat similar to the national picture with this tailing off of sales whilst listings are shown to be growing albeit slowly thereby potentially allowing this heated market to cool significantly.

Akl sales & listings.png

The Wellington market equally is experiencing a tailing off of sales volumes, however what is most conspicuous is the consistent decline in new listings through the past year. For the past 4 quarters new listings have tracked below the level of the prior year and that decline accelerated in the final quarter to a 6% decline indicating that the market activity is declining and the market availability of new listings equally in decline.

Wellington sales & listings.png

The Canterbury market is the one major city / region that is not mirroring the national trend. The market here is as anticipated, continuing to see a recovery with growth in listings and sales albeit at modest levels.

Chc sales & listings.png

 

This article and analysis is focused on property sales, the number of transactions. It is not about property prices, however they are inextricably linked and tend to follow the same trends with volumes leading prices, if as we are seeing a lessening of demand through a plateauing of transacted sales then that is likely that we will witness a lessening of pricing pressure which should have the effect of cooling the market, not necessarily leading to price falls but at least taking the steam out of the market.


Adjusting to a new normal in the property market

by Alistair Helm in


The latest monthly report from Realestate.co.nz tracking the supply side of the property market headlines a story that has been consistent for well over 2 years now. Step back to December 2011 and the report headlined "Active property market still favours sellers". The fact is we have been experiencing a property market with what we constantly describe as a shortage of supply for close on 3 years now. 

At some point you have to ask are we merely living in an aberration of the norm, or is this the norm?

The chart below ably demonstrates the supply constraints which the market has experienced as measured by the availability of houses for sale set by the number of weeks it would take 'in theory' to sell all the current stock based on current rate of sale per week.

Inventory Nov 13.png

We certainly experienced a period when inventory levels exceeded a full year and topped 60 weeks back in 2008, but for the period of the last two and a half years the level of inventory has settled to around 6 months levels.

The fundamental problem we face in analysing the property market is access to data. In regard to sales data we have through the Real Estate Institute sales data by month going back to 1992 which allows us to identify the cycles of the market - the highs of the mid 90's, the lows of the late 90's the bubble of the mid '00's and then the crash and subsequent recovery. However when it comes to supply data we are limited to the past 7 years as the database of Realestate.co.nz only really became reliable from January 2007.

It is therefore somewhat risky to assume that the levels of inventory below the 26 week level is exceptionally low and assume that the 7 year average of 37 weeks is the norm. It is quite likely that the norm may actually be 26 weeks and the 50+ weeks levels the aberration. In fact from a cursory reference to some overseas markets 26 weeks seems to be the norm.

Supporting this proposition is a further analysis I have undertaken on available data examined the trending of both sales and listings across the country over the past 5 years using a 12 month moving average to eliminate any seasonality and look to see a long term trend. The insight is valuable.

NZ sales & listings trennd Nov 13.png

This chart highlights in grey the fact that the variance trend in sales is more significant than that in listings - not surprising to some extent as listings volumes have tended to be around twice the number of sales, but what is very interesting is the past 6 months right up to November where there has been effectively no growth in the 12month average number of listings yet sales continue to growth on a moving annualised basis of over 10% - so we continue to see sales rising far faster than listings.

With this as an interpretation of the status of the property market it would now seem to be illogical to constantly scream that listings are in short supply - are they really?!

I am now more than ever convinced that what we are really seeing here is a maturing of the interpretation of the data around listings and inventory such that in overall terms I judge that the NZ property market is actually pretty well balanced with 26 weeks being the norm and the current level of 24.8 weeks being right on the norm. After all if this was a supply constrained market would we not expect to see either of growing listings or erratic buyer behaviour (although I suspect some would argue the rise in price is just such an erratic behaviour).

Clearly taking this approach to a new norm would mean that some regions are actually in buyers' markets whilst other are actually less likely to be in severe sellers' markets. In terms of the Property Dashboard could this actually be a truer reflection of the NZ property market?

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