14 Sep 2012

NZ property investors 'still unenthusiastic'

7:14 am on 14 September 2012

A foreign commercial property expert says he's surprised New Zealand property investors are not more enthusiastic about the market.

The head of Asia Pacific Research at CBRE, Nick Axford, says New Zealand's commercial property should benefit from the rebuilding of Christchurch's central city and greater activity in Auckland.

He says the New Zealand economy is expected to see reasonably robust growth over the next couple of years, but there are regional variations in how this flows onto the property market.

Dr Axford says there should be reasonable growth in Auckland with a beneficial effect coming from the expenditure on the Christchurch rebuild and some recovery in the Auckland housing market.

He says in Wellington there is a more challenging environment and over the next few years there will be some quite sharp contrasts between individual markets and sectors.

"To some degree we think this is a actually a very attractive buying opportunity and we're quite surprised we're not already seeing more demand coming through from domestic institutions".

Meanwhile, Europe's woes are affecting confidence globally, which is stopping corporates, many of which are sitting on piles of cash, from investing more.

Dr Axford says the Asia Pacific region is one of the few bright spots for growth globally, and should benefit first from any improvement in sentiment.

He says if there is a slightly more positive environment shareholders are likely to put pressure on companies to earn higher returns and corporate occupiers will look to parts of the world where they can generate growth and higher profits.

Dr Axford says that is going to be difficult to do in Europe and North America, while Asia has higher growth rates and many business opportunities.

"So that return of confidence we think will very quickly lead to a resumption of expansion activity on the part of domestic and international companies across the Asia Pacific region and that will help drive profitability and it'll help drive the economies of the region".

Dr Axford says Asia will see a sharper bounce-back in economic activity which is also good news for the Pacific region and Australia and New Zealand.