Lifestyle property sales increasing

Sales of lifestyle properties are on the up, according to the Real Estate Institute, with 182 more sales in the three months ended March than for the three months ended February. The median price for all lifestyle properties sold in the first quarter was $647,500.

Brian Peacock, the institute’s rural spokesman,  says there were 1716 lifestyle property sales during the quarter  and a total of 7344 properties — valued at $5.77 billion — sold in the year to March. That’s 1558 fewer than were sold in the year to March 2017.

Peacocke says: “Following a considerable easing in sales during the three-month period ending February, the most recent three-month period ending March recorded a solid upturn, which reflected a dramatic recovery in activity, particularly in the northern regions.”

Housing momentum

Economists at Westpac say the housing market has regained some momentum after a slowdown in the first half of last year. It’s weekly report says Auckland house prices have recovered all of their decline, and prices have continued to rise in much of the rest of the country — with the exception of Canterbury .

It says an easing in lending conditions —  lower mortgage rates and a loosening of loan-to-value restrictions — have helped to lift housing demand in recent months.

But there  are new Government policies lined up.  These include an extension of the “bright line” test to five years — meaning if investors sell property within five years they’ll have to pay  capital gains tax.  A ban on foreign buyers of residential property may come later this year, and there’s the phasing out of “negative gearing” — the ability of property investors to use losses from rental properties to reduce their overall tax bill — from next year.

And in a bid to reduce demand for housing, the Government plans to reduce net migration.

Westpac economists predict that interest will start to rise in line with global rate rises.