Buying a home in Wellington has become easier because there’s now so much more choice, Tommy’s Real Estate Sales Director Nicki Cruickshank says.

“This time last year we couldn’t get enough houses, and we had so many buyers on each one. But this year we have twice as many houses, and probably a few less buyers, so it does feel like quite a turnaround. In saying that, it must be much more pleasant for buyers out there, not feeling like they have no chance.

“I wouldn’t call it a buyers’ market yet – but it is certainly a lot easier for buyers, and with it so hard to get finance now, we are definitely seeing more conditional offers being accepted. At the moment, I would call it a well-balanced market. Nicki cites a number of reasons for the rise in stock numbers.

”A lot of people have been sitting for sometime in their current property, and wouldn’t sell until they could find something, so we get a situation that no one moves unless they have to. However, there comes a time when people need to upsize or downsize and put their homes on the market and hope they will then find something. I think a lot of people have also realised the market is not going any higher, so want to sell their property while they perceive the market is at its highest.” She also believes more rental stock is coming to the market.

“A lot of people are still selling rental properties due to it becoming so much harder to be a landlord with all of the new government regulations and inability to claim your costs.” At the same time, investment property remains a good hedge against inflation and higher interest rates, Nicki says. “Residential property has always been a good investment in New Zealand,” Nicki says.

“People like the feel of ‘bricks and mortar’ as an investment they can see, particularly in Wellington where we have the highest rents in the country — and never enough houses to rent. If you are in for the long haul, which most people are, then, yes, it is a good safe investment, and if you can get into new builds you save yourself a lot of headaches around maintenance and also you can claim your interest as an expense!”

Nicki says family homes are always the most in-demand in Wellington. “There is never enough of them, and even if the market does correct, good family homes always sell well. If you think about it, most families stay in a four-bedroom home around 20 years, whereas two-to-three bedroom homes turn over every seven years or so, so it’s harder to buy that bigger home.”

Nicki says the threat of Omicron’s spread hasn’t markedly changed people’s behaviour. “If they want to buy a house, they are still coming to look. I think the weather has more effect than Omicron! Under the Red setting, there’s probably a bit of a change towards one-on-one appointments as a preference for people over attending open homes. However, we have operated through level two and three under restrictions, so I think people are used to it.”

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