Quotable Value (QV) reports that nationwide residential property values have risen in January, with values up 1.5% over the past three months.
Values are now 2.6% above the previous market peak of late 2007.
The Government valuer said that its monthly property value index shows that prices have risen by 6.2% over the past year, with increased activity now moving beyond Auckland and Christchurch.
"It has been a relatively strong start to the year for the property market, carrying on from the increased activity we saw in late 2012. There has been plenty of buyer enquiry and sales activity throughout January at a time when people are usually still in holiday mode," said QV research director Jonno Ingerson.
"The increase in nationwide values is no longer solely being driven by Auckland and Canterbury.
"Over the last month or two values have also begun rising again in most of the other main cities and provincial centres. While the rate of value increase is not as fast as Auckland and Canterbury it does signal an increase in confidence across most of the country," he said.
However, Ingerson added that a lack of properties listed for sale will continue to constrain sales volumes.
"The number of new listings coming onto the market has been fairly stable since 2009 and well below the levels seen at the peak of the market. Now that sales volumes have picked up the number of properties currently for sale has also dropped to very low levels. This leads to reduced buyer choice, and means that well-presented properties tend to sell quickly.
"The overall result is upward pressure on prices," said Ingerson.
With regard to house values in the wider Auckland area, QV said that prices have risen up to 10.2% over the past year and are up 3.0% over the past three months.
Old Auckland City and North Shore continue to have the steepest increases over the past 12 months, up 11.1% and 10.2% respectively, with Manukau and Waitakere close behind, up 9.7% and 9.2%.
Values in the wider Auckland area are now 12.4% above the previous market peak in 2007, led by old Auckland City which is 15.9% above that mark.
QV Operations Manager Kerry Stewart said that there has been "good activity" in West Auckland over the past six weeks.
"Areas like New Lynn, Titirangi and Te Atatu are in good demand, with subdivisions in Henderson, Swanson and Massey also surging ahead.
"In Central Auckland we have seen houses priced over $2 million start to stabilise, with many selling after auction. This is in contrast to properties under $1 million which are still sought after, often selling prior to auction or having their auction dates moved forward due to keen buyer interest," said Stewart.
QV said house prices in Hamilton have increased a little recently, up 3.7% above last year and 1.0% over the past three months.
"Values in Hamilton continue to climb, albeit slowly. Buyers are now finding it difficult to get an entry level home under $300,000, with $330,000-340,000 a more likely price range. Section prices seem to be increasing due to new developments on the market and construction not seen for 10 years or so in the CBD could be a sign of growing confidence," QV valuer Richard Allen said.
Property values in Tauranga increased throughout the middle of 2012 before dropping back towards the end of the year. The last couple of months have been static leaving values 1.0% down on last year.
While in Wellington, QV said that values remain stable, up 0.6% over the past three months and up 1.8% up over the past year.
Christchurch on the rise again
However, Christchurch values continue to rise, with the past 12 months seeing a 7.1% increase.
The past three months has seen a 2.4% increase as well to leave Christchurch now 6.3% above the 2007 market peak.
"The market seems to be picking up again after a quiet period over Christmas. Although there continues to be strong demand from first home buyers and investors at the lower end of the market, we are seeing good sales and activity towards the top end now as well," QV valuer Daryl Taggart said.
"A lot of building activity throughout the city is underway, repairing earthquake damaged properties, with some new houses now ready to move into. The least unaffected areas as well as outlying areas continue to have strong appeal, with Cashmere and Westmoreland particularly showing strong sales volumes lately" said Taggart.
Yet values in Dunedin have been more stable, only fluctuating within a small range. Values are up 1.1% over the past three months and still 2.7% up over the past year.
"Dunedin has seen a very busy start to the year with the Christmas period also unusually busy. The bottom end of the market is seeing most of the activity with properties receiving multiple offers and selling within weeks or even days in some instances," commented QV valuer Tim Gibson.