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Queenstown leads as Otago house prices hit record


Otago is among the top four regions chalking up record median house prices for April, albeit well down the ranking by dollar values.

Queenstown leads Otago house pricesRecord median prices were hit in Waikato-Bay of Plenty, up 19.1% to $417,000; Taranaki, up 15.1% to $342,500; Canterbury-Westland, up 0.5% to $427,250; and Otago, up 9% to $284,000.

The Central Otago Lakes region, including Queenstown, recorded the largest percentage increase in median price compared with a year ago, up 25.2% to $666,250. Queenstown on its own booked a 31% increase on a year ago, up by $207,500 to $877,500.

The gain per month over the year would, in theory, be about $17,300, or $3990 a week.

The national median price was $490,000 for April, up $35,000, or 7.7%, on April last year but down 1% from March, data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand showed yesterday.

Dunedin prices were up 9.2% on a year ago to $315,000, North Otago rose 0.5% to $239,000 and South Otago dipped 13.2%, or $21,000, to $137,500.

REINZ chief executive Colleen Milne said April's data confirmed the continued strength of the market across New Zealand, driven by a "chronic lack of supply''.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests that investors outside of Auckland are increasingly looking to real estate investments to improve their yields compared to bank deposits,'' she said yesterday.

Mrs Milne said first-home buyers were also taking advantage of low mortgage rates, putting pressure on the number of properties for sale.

REINZ regional spokeswoman Liz Nidd, of Dunedin, said Otago's record was driven by strong first-home buyer demand and investors seeking better rental yields.

"Demand is coming from both locals and New Zealanders returning to the region from overseas,'' she said.

In Central Otago, spokeswoman Gail Hudson said a dramatic lift in median price in March had "bedded in'' during April, with record sales of 190 homes, not seen since March 2003.

"The situation across the region remains tight, with a 44% drop in inventory over the past 12 months,'' Mrs Hudson said.

Along with Waikato-Bay of Plenty, Central Otago was the strongest market at present, she said.