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The Waitaki district’s residential real estate market is bouncing back after the lockdown, but it is too early to know what the full effects of Covid-19 will be, local real estate agents say.

Meanwhile, the demand for rental accommodation in Oamaru remains high.

PGG Wrightson Real Estate Oamaru residential sales consultant Tony Spivey said it was still a seller’s market in the Waitaki district.

“There [are] more people still desperately keen to get into the Waitaki region than leave, which is what it was [like] pre-Covid,” Mr Spivey said.

“I haven’t seen a dive or any negative impact around value. Things are ticking on and people are still trying to get in here.”

Compared with the national median house price of $620,00, Waitaki still represented great value, he said.

In May, the median house price in Waitaki was $330,000, compared with $331,500 at the same time last year.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) reveal the number of residential properties sold in Waitaki dropped during lockdown. Six properties were sold in the district in April, compared with 30 in the same period last year.

In May, 22 properties were sold, compared with 56 sales in May 2019.

The trends were echoed across the country. Just 3990 homes sold across the country in May – 47% down on the same month in 2018.

Southern Wide Real Estate Oamaru branch manager Heather Burgher said she was surprised how quickly the local market had bounced back.

However, she warned the Government’s wage subsidy could be leading to “a false sense of security”.

“We have been extremely busy in the latter part of May and June,” Ms Burgher said.

“In Oamaru it is still a seller’s market in your average price range.

“It feels like we have taken off where we left off, with a bit of a break in the middle.

“People are going to have to wait and see what happens in the next three to six months.”

With international tourism brought to a halt by Covid-19, Ms Burgher said there had been predictions more people would turn their Airbnb properties into long-term rentals, but the demand for rental accommondation in Oamaru remained high.

“Just having a few conversations with people who have Airbnbs, there are still New Zealanders travelling and they have [been] booking in the weekends.”

LJ Hooker Oamaru owner Stephen Robertson said signs for sellers in the post-Covid market were positive.

“We have closed 11 sales so far this month, which is as busy as we would expect to be at this time of year,” Mr Robertson said.

“Open homes have been really well attended, first home buyers are very active and investors are back in the market with the low interest rates available.”

The long-term outlook would depend on employment stability and how the local economy recovered, he said.

Some people had listed their Airbnb properties with LJ Hooker as long-term rentals, but there was still a need for more in the district, he said.

“We are still managing to rent our properties quickly as they come to market.”