Chief economist: ‘Queenstown property can’t defy gravity forever’

Wary of ‘‘exceptionalism’’: ANZ Bank chief economist Sharon Zollner

ANZ Bank’s chief economist doesn’t believe Queenstown can remain immune from forces dragging down residential property prices elsewhere in New Zealand.

According to QV stats for the June quarter, out of 16 NZ areas, Queenstown-Lakes was the only one where prices rose — by 1.9%.

Sharon Zollner, who addressed a gathering two weeks ago hosted by Harcourts Queenstown, tells Mountain Scene: ‘‘I am just a little wary of exceptionalism — the idea that somehow one region’s going to be immune from the forces that are slowing down [price growth] everywhere else, because of its wonderful nature or something [else].

‘‘I’m old enough to remember booms and busts in Queenstown, but obviously there’s a few people who can only remember booms.’’

Zollner cites factors slowing sales and causing price drops elsewhere — ‘‘interest rates having risen so rapidly and the new restrictions on investors and the affordability equation getting increasingly difficult and construction costs going through the roof’’.

‘‘I mean, the list of headwinds is endless, the list of tailwinds is non-existent — you can’t defy gravity forever.’’

Zollner accepts returning Kiwi expats moving to areas like Queenstown, Tauranga and Napier are having an effect, but says ‘‘they can’t sustain a housing market on their own’’.

She welcomes the boost Queenstown’s economy is receiving from international visitors returning, because house construction is ‘‘not the most sustainable source of growth’’.

However, she says ‘‘I’d be wary of using the initial rush as a strong guide to what the next year might look like’’.

‘‘I think it seems unlikely to be where it was.

‘‘Oil prices are much higher, and central banks around the world are attempting to make consumers spend less, not more.

‘‘To the extent they succeed, then long-haul tourism might be one of the things you might expect people might cut back on.’’

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