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House prices in the Waitaki district continue to soar.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) show the median price for houses sold in the district has risen from $327,000 in August 2019 to $364,583 in August this year – an 11.5% increase.

The trend was echoed nationwide country’s 16 regions had record high median prices in August.

It follows several years of continued growth in the Waitaki district – house price has gone up 39.4% over the past three years.

Lifetime financial adviser Robbie Crawford said the rise in property values in Waitaki was underpinned by the first-home buyer, especially in properties priced under $400,000.

“That is where the market is buoyant and that has a ripple effect on to the next tier as well,” Mr Crawford said.

The introduction of KiwiSaver in 2007 had helped a lot of people into their first home, he said.

“Particularly couples, they can get into the market relatively easily .. and it’s certainly more attractive paying a mortgage than it is rent,” he said.

“Rental returns in Oamaru are comparatively higher than the rest of the country.”

Mr Crawford had no doubt there would be economic fallout from Covid-19, but said the Waitaki district was better placed than other parts of the country.

“We still have a quite an agricultural economy in this area, which should come through stronger.”

While house prices were rising in Waitaki, they were still significantly lower than the national median average of $675,000.

Eisenhut, who moved to Oamaru from Auckland with his family two months ago, Waitaki offered a more affordable and better lifestyle.

As an information technology professional, Mr Eisenhut is able to work remotely.

When he first started browsing real estate listings in North Otago, he thought some of the prices were misprinted, because of how cheap they were compared with Auckland.

“We found our dream home and are really in love with Oamaru, it’s just a great place,” he said.

“We had options to get a house, one that you want to live in forever.”

The friendly community was another reason why Oamaru appealed as a destination, he said.

The Waimate district’s median house prices also rose, up 12.8% in the past 12 months $344,000 in August this year.

REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said no-one could have predicted how the property market would be impacted by Covid-19.

“If you’d have asked people back in March how long it would take to recover, the answers would have varied from months to years, so to have the level of turnaround that we’ve seen in the last few months is surprising,” Ms Norwell said.

There were several reasons for property prices continuing to rise, she said.

“Part of the uplift is a result of this pent-up demand we’ve seen for a few months, but it’s coupled with the return of expats from offshore, the low interest rate environment, the temporary removal of the [loan-to-value ratios] and also the wider confidence people have in the market thanks to schemes such as the mortgage holidays and wage subsidies,” she said.

“It also has to be said that both real estate agents and consumers have responded extremely quickly to the move to virtual and online sales tools, and that certainly will have aided the market’s recovery.”