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NZ housing market set to regain strength in first half of 2018

New Zealand's property market should be in better shape a year from now – but how fast prices pick up again may depend on who successfully forms the next government.

A new report from Corelogic shows the housing market has lost its lustre over recent months – and the traditional "spring surge" of activity has not happened.

Nationwide, residential property value growth dropped to 4.8 per cent in August, the slowest rate in five years.

Auckland's rate slowed to 2.8 per cent and Corelogic said it had had effectively no increase in property values since October last year.

Provincial New Zealand, where house prices started to increase much later than Auckland's, was still experiencing price growth. But Corelogic said that had fallen away since the start of the year and was unlikely to last.

Sales volumes were weak across the board.

But Corelogic's head of research, Nick Goodall, said there were still key fundamentals underpinning the housing market that were likely to push house prices up again before too long.

There was still a lack of housing available, he said, which puts pressure on the market.

Corelogic's data shows over the year to June there were 30,538 dwellings consented for, assumed to be able to house 65,952 people. But the population increased by 100,500.

Whichever party is successful in forming the next government, they would be unlikely to make a dent in that quickly, Goodall said.

While National and Labour both have strong building targets, particularly around the number of affordable houses they wanted to build, the shortfall would take some time to rectify.

Demand for houses was also strong because interest rates were still near historic lows and looked set to remain low for a while yet, Goodall said.

Migration looks to have peaked but is still high by historic standards.

Goodall said whether that continue would depend on who NZ First sided with. Labour was more closely aligned with NZ First's pledge to crack down on immigration, which could reduce demand for properties, particularly in Auckland.

But Goodall said even that could have limited impact on prices.

"Either way it will likely take some time for any changes to take effect so the impact of an increasing population will continue to put pressure on the housing market."

He said much of the population growth was still down to New Zealanders not leaving – and they would not be affected by moves to reduce immigration.

Goodall said a National-led government could mean an lift in sales volumes sooner than a Labour led-government, because National has fewer policies to address the demand for housing.

He said he expected to see an increase in activity again in February or March next year, which would flow through to prices again.

If National was confirmed as the next government there could be a market bounce as investors returned who had been holding off out, out of concerns of a Labour crackdown on landlords, he said.

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