Trends and Insights

As 2024 unfolds, the New Zealand property market is a confluence of challenges and opportunities for developers. The mix of data presents a complex picture, making it difficult to discern a clear market direction. This update aims to distill key facts, offering insights to navigate the shifting sands of the property development sector.

A Surge in House Price Expectations

A notable rebound in housing confidence signals rising expectations for house price increases, especially pronounced in Auckland. This trend, captured in the ASB housing confidence report for the three months leading to January 2024, hints at a broader national optimism. It suggests we might be on the cusp of recovery and growth, moving away from the recent downturn.

Listings Reach All-time High

February 2024 witnessed an unprecedented surge in new listings, with reporting a 45% year-on-year increase to 11,788 new residential listings. Auckland’s market, in particular, saw a significant influx, marking an 11-year high with 5,382 properties listed with Barfoot and Thompson. This abundance puts buyers firmly in the driver’s seat, heralding a shift towards a buyers’ market despite underlying positive pricing trends.

The Interest Rate Conundrum

Interest rates remain a pivotal area of focus, with mixed expectations about their future trajectory. While there’s apprehension about potential hikes, there’s also a growing sentiment that we might be nearing the peak. This uncertain interest rate landscape requires developers to engage in strategic financial planning more than ever. With mortgage advisors and agents noting an increase in first home buyers with pre-approvals, a moderate interest rate scenario could spur a notable uptick in market activity.

Economic Indicators and Market Activity

The economic backdrop has its complexities, with Stats NZ indicating a recession in the latter half of last year. Despite this, the housing market displays resilience, with early 2024 showing healthy year-on-year house price growth. This dynamism points to a stabilizing market, ripe for growth against the backdrop of increasing population and persistent housing shortages.

Regional Dynamics: A Diverse Story

The recovery narrative is not uniform across New Zealand. Regions like Otago exhibit strong housing value increases, contrasting with areas experiencing different median sale price trends. This diversity underscores the importance of nuanced strategies for developers, tailored to specific local market conditions.

New Consents Decline

The end of 2023 saw a sharp drop in new home consents, although this follows a period of record highs. This fluctuation suggests a normalization of the consenting environment rather than a downturn. The true impact of new consents on the market remains to be seen, serving more as an indicator of developer optimism than a direct measure of upcoming construction activity.

Refined Strategic Considerations for Developers

Given the mixed signals from the property market in 2024, developers must navigate cautiously, armed with strategies that not only address current trends but also anticipate future shifts. Here’s how these strategies can be tailored to the unique landscape described:

  1. Navigating a Buyers’ Market with Flexible Sales Strategies: With listings at an all-time high and buyers in the driving seat, developers should consider flexible pricing and sales strategies to stand out in a crowded market. This might include offering purchase incentives, customizable options for new builds, or flexible financing arrangements to entice discerning buyers.


  1. Capitalizing on the Surge in House Price Expectations: Despite the broader buyers’ market, areas like Auckland are seeing a surge in house price expectations. Developers in these regions could prioritize projects that align with this optimism, focusing on properties that cater to market segments demonstrating the most robust growth prospects.


  1. Adjusting to the Interest Rate Landscape: With the potential for interest rate stabilization, developers should remain vigilant, preparing for various financial scenarios. This includes securing favorable loan terms now, while also staying prepared for any shifts that could affect buyer affordability and, consequently, demand for new developments.


  1. Economic Recession vs. Market Resilience: The apparent disconnect between the broader economy’s performance and the housing market’s resilience suggests developers need a dual focus. They should not only track macroeconomic indicators but also deeply understand the housing market’s unique dynamics, adjusting project timelines and investment focuses accordingly.


  1. Responding to Changes in New Consents: The drop in new consents, following a peak, indicates a potential normalization of the market. Developers should use this period to reassess their project pipelines, prioritizing developments that meet current market needs while also preparing for future demand rebounds.


  1. Addressing the GDP Per Capita Decline: Understanding the impact of a falling GDP per person on market segments is critical. Developers might need to pivot towards more affordable housing projects or adjust their offerings to remain appealing to a potentially cost-sensitive buyer base.


  1. Targeting Untapped Regional Markets: With regions like Otago showing strong growth, developers should consider expanding their focus beyond traditionally popular areas. Detailed market research can identify other regions with high growth potential, allowing for diversified investment and reduced risk.


  1. Emphasizing Quality and Value in Development Projects: In a market characterized by an abundance of options for buyers, emphasizing the quality and unique value propositions of your developments can help differentiate them. This includes focusing on sustainable building practices, innovative design, and community integration that adds tangible value to potential buyers.

Forward-Looking Strategy

As 2024 continues to unfold, developers face a complex environment shaped by economic uncertainties, shifting buyer dynamics, and regional disparities. By adopting a forward-looking strategy that addresses these nuances, developers can navigate the current landscape with greater confidence. Staying adaptable, informed, and responsive to market changes will be key to seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges in New Zealand’s property development sector.