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House market strains

With most Gisborne house builders booked up for the rest of this year and a severe lack of rentals, Gisborne’s realtors are seeing “phenomenal” moves in the residential housing market.

Statistics from Stats NZ show the nation, bar the Gisborne region, last year built more houses than at any time in the past 14 years.

Just 83 new homes were consented here, the lowest number of all New Zealand regions.

The total cost of those builds came to $32 million for the year.

Consents in Northland equalled that value in just one month.

The national picture is 32,996 houses consented, the highest for more than a decade.

“The number of new homes consented in 2018 reached their highest level in over 14 years,” Stats NZ construction statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said.

“The all-time record was 40,025 new homes consented in the year ended February, 1974.”

However, while Gisborne’s house building industry is the smallest in the country, it is working to peak capacity.

Registered Master Builders Association Gisborne president Rod Dear said most builders were already booked up for the next year ahead.

“Everyone seems to be pretty busy, so it’s looking pretty good for the year.”

However, Gisborne was struggling with a labour shortage in the industry, with some builders reporting that their newly-trained apprentices were being “poached” by rivals.

“That’s the biggest problem we have got,” said Mr Dear. “There are just not enough qualified trades guys around.

“That’s not just in the building industry; it’s tilers, electricians, the whole lot.

“The Government comes up with all these schemes but they are not targeting where the money should go.”

Mr Dear suggested a government subsidy should be introduced for firms taking on apprentices.

“That would help out a hell of a lot.

“It’s fairly buoyant at the moment. Everyone I’ve spoken to, and also in the commercial sector, everyone is saying the same — it’s all about the staff shortages.

“Generally it’s all moving along but we can only do so much in a year.”

LJ Hooker Gisborne principal George Searle said a definite lack of section development and an influx of people moving to the city had combined to make the housing market the most active he had ever seen.

The company’s Project Gisborne mass auction on Saturday saw 24 out of 27 properties sell under the hammer.

‘A lot more buyers in market from November onwards’“It was phenomenal. We had about 102 bidders on those properties. So, it’s the most active the market has been in my real estate career, which is about 14 years,” said Mr Searle.

“A lot more buyers have come in from November onwards and there are more people coming to Gisborne.”

The success of the KiwiSaver scheme was also pushing the market at a time when the costs of building had risen “significantly” over the past two years.

“It’s actually reflecting in the sale prices for homes because if people look to build, they are going to get a better price buying a home.”

The next Project Gisborne would feature about 50 homes.

Nationally, the number of new homes consented rose 6.1 percent in 2018 from 2017, driven by increases in Auckland and Wellington (up 18 percent and 19 percent respectively).Private owners (including developers) accounted for 94 percent of the 32,996 new homes consented in the year ended December 2018.

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