A week has now passed since the devastating 7.1 scale quake rocked the Canterbury landscape and brought untold damage to the region and the picturesque city of Christchurch. The saving grace is the fact that there was no loss of life.
As life slowly and hopefully begins to return to some form of normality the question that has been asked is what impact will the earthquake have on the real estate market in the region? An article in the NZ Herald today states that around 150 house sales are in limbo as a direct result of the earthquake as they wait to be able to confirm finance and insurance.
Clearly an event on this scale and with the impact on the built environment will cause uncertainty in the minds of both buyers and sellers. That having been said with a population in the Canterbury region of 518,000 and 202,000 occupied dwellings (Census 2006) business and life will go on and that includes real estate. In July total sales in the region were 651 with 482 in Christchurch city itself. That amounts to close to 16 properties sold per day. Whilst the August sales result due to be published this week will be unaffected there will likely be some impact on September figures as well as subsequent months.
An early indication of the future state of the property market potentially can be gleaned from statistics of the Realestate.co.nz website providing as it does real-time data.
The level of visitor traffic to Canterbury properties took a significant and immediate hit immediately after the quake. This is only to be expected as more urgent matters were top-of-mind. The chart below tracks the daily visitor numbers viewing Canterbury properties for sale (this is the viewing of properties from both within the region as well as nationally and internationally).
As can be seen the prior 5 weeks saw an average of 3,000 to 4,000 visitors per day – the Saturday of the quake saw visitor numbers drop to below 2,000 with subsequent days climbing back up, closer to 3,000. Whilst still down by a third it is clear that the area is still attracting interest from buyers and sellers.
Another key metric measured by the website is the number of new listings and inventory of unsold properties on the market. The data in the last NZ Property Report and the Canterbury Monthly Property Pulse factsheet both highlighted that the property market in the region as viewed from August data showed a balanced market with an inventory level equivalent to 35 weeks of sales compared to the long term average of 31 weeks.
Since last Saturday, the 4th September, listings are still being added to the website, in Christchurch alone 188 new properties have been listed. Across the region the number of listings are down on a proportional basis, although not that significantly. Based on historical trends the total of new listings coming onto the market across the region look to be down by just 10%.
The media coverage of the events of the past 10 days have provided for us who do not live in the Garden City a sense of what is going on, however we cannot start to imagine what it must have been like to have been there on that fateful morning and for that reason we wish to pass on our good wishes to all the family and friends in this industry in the region. They like all real estate people are very much a part of the local community and I am sure they are doing their utmost to support their communities.
One of the great benefits of social media is hearing from people as they share their perspective and personal experiences. It was a couple of these blogs that caught me eye this weekend; reading the true story of what it has been like down there in the region. Have a read of the personal blog of Phil Hayes and the Doctor in the House a blog by Steve Taylor.