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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Real estate market split by quakes

Real estate market split by quakes

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 11/05/2011
 
Buyers are shunning homes in eastern Christchurch as the effects of the earthquakes split the housing market.

Sales in the hardest-hit suburbs have slowed to a trickle, with so few recorded that valuation agency QV has been unable to measure trends in values.

In Sumner, Chris Milne can neither sell nor rent his undamaged beachfront apartment.

He bought the property to rent out now and retire in later, but even halving the rent drew no tenants.

The apartment is for sale, with an asking price less than its 2007 rating valuation.

Open homes have drawn a blank.

"Nobody turned up," Milne said. "People are just reluctant to live out this way.

"They seem to be worried about the portaloos, the damaged roads and the traffic jams, but it's certainly no worse here than anywhere else."

He said the Sumner real estate agents had left.

Real estate agent Tim Dunningham, of Min Sarginson, said the market around Lyttelton Harbour had "just gone dead", even as far away as Diamond Harbour and Church Bay.

"We've actually had almost no damage over here, but we are finding there are no buyers and no interest whatever. It's very frustrating," he said.

"People are rushing to buy houses in Rolleston, forgetting that's near where the first big earthquake was centred."

Melanie Swallow, of QV Valuations, said some house sales had been a knee-jerk reaction to the February quake and the initial flurry of activity was settling down.

She said buying patterns were in some cases based on perceptions of certain suburbs and not facts.

There had been "strong interest" in homes in the northwestern suburbs and in towns in the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts, as long as they were not overpriced.

There was no indication prices in any areas had fallen, Swallow said. Lack of job security had slowed the move of homeowners from first to second homes, she said.

Real Estate Institute figures show that about 80 per cent of Christchurch house sales in March were in the western half of the city.

Prices since the February quake were up compared with a year ago in North Canterbury and in Christchurch suburbs such as Bryndwr, Burnside and Riccarton.

Few sales have been recorded in the eastern and hill suburbs.

Mortgage broker Scott Miller, of Advance Mortgage Solutions, said most sales were now on the west side of town, but buyers in the hardest-hit areas were having no trouble getting loans.

"We've actually had more success getting borrowers across the line than after September, as long as there's replacement insurance."

He said lenders did not always require engineering reports.

The quakes had affected business for mortgage brokers, and he had heard of some having to find ways to supplement their income.

Christchurch's housing market has had its quietest period on record since the February quake, with homes selling at a rate of about six a day in the weeks afterwards.

- The Press

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