Growth in the property market is petering off, with the Mike Pero Mortgages/Infometrics Property Cycle Indicator (PCI) falling to its lowest level in 18 months.
The PCI, a sensitive measure of the housing market and ranging from negative 10 to positive 10, fell to a positive 3.97 in February, from 5.22 in January.
"The PCI was still positive in February, but it was at its lowest value since June 2008, which shows a definite easing off in the housing market," says Mike Pero Mortgages chief Shaun Riley.
The three main factors the indicator takes into account are changes in the number of houses sold, changes in price and the time taken for a house to sell.
Sales volumes fell 3.4% in February from January, seasonally adjusted, and the median house price, although unchanged from the previous month at $350,000, remains 2.8% below its December 2009 peak.
The average number of days taken to sell a house in February was up from January, to 46 in February.
"Although this result was 16 days faster than in February last year, it is the highest seasonally adjusted level since June 2009," Riley says.
The Central Otago Lakes region was the only region in the country where the housing market gained momentum, according to the PCI, which was up from 0.30 in January to 0.52 in February.
Auckland dropped off, with a PCI of 5.81 in February, down from 7.87 in January. Wellington also lost ground with a PCI of 4.47 (from 7.09).
Southland's PCI slipped slightly to 1.17 in February, from 2.20 in January, while Canterbury/Westland's PCI was 0.36, a decrease from 2.71 a month earlier. Nelson/Marlborough was down to 0.59 from 2.30 and Otago also lost ground with a PCI of 0.12, down from 2.65.
Mike Pero Mortgages also says rents were 4.1% higher than a year earlier, the sharpest annual increase since September 2008.