Dunedin remains the most affordable main centre in New Zealand to buy a house, despite the market continuing to be buoyant, QV statistics show.

Dunedin city home prices rose 15.4% in the year ended March and 2.7% in the past three months. Values were now 27.1% above the previous peak of 2007.

The average Dunedin home was worth $363,821 at the end of March, much less than the $1 million in Queenstown-Lakes, which had an annual rise of 28.5% but only a 2% quarterly rise.

In Dunedin, the coastal area had the highest growth over the past quarter, when values rose 9.5%. They rose 19.6% in the year to March and the average Dunedin coastal house was worth $376,502 at the end of that month.

''Listing levels continue to be at low levels, meaning it is slim pickings for buyers and more competition for those properties on the market", QV Dunedin registered valuer Duncan Jack said yesterday.

Value levels continued to rise. Reports of strongest demand were in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, Mr Jack said. The upper price ranges were also in demand but were seeing less growth than the lower end of the market. Multi offers were still the norm as buyers competed strongly, driving prices and values higher.

Both local and out-of-town investors remained active in the Dunedin market, Mr Jack said.

Central Otago values rose 22.8% annually to $437,791, Clutha rose 6.9% to $189,673, Southland was up 14.9% to $248,195, Gore was up 9.5% to $208,501 and Invercargill was up 8.9% to $237,168.

The Mackenzie district again had the highest annual value growth, up 30.6%, and 9.5% for the quarter. The average home value in the district was now nearly $450,000. Waitaki values rose 10.8% in the year and 1.7% in the quarter to an average of $261,295.

QV national spokeswoman Andrea Rush said the Wellington region continued to have some of the strongest value growth in any area in New Zealand, particularly in more affordable areas outside the central city such as Porirua and the Hutt Valley.

Values also rose steadily in Dunedin but slowed in Tauranga to 0.6% quarterly growth.

Values in parts of Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch were slightly down but were stabilising and continuing to rise in other parts of those centres.

''This means the downward trend and dampening in these markets seen since the latest round of LVR [loan-to-value] restrictions may be shallower than expected.''

Values might start to rise in those main centres in coming months, given the market was still being driven by a high number of sales to investors, record high net migration, relatively low interest rates, a lack of supply and fewer taxes on property investment than many other countries, she said.


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