Residential property values in New Zealand fell 9.2% in April from a year earlier, after declining 9.3% annually in March, a report from Quotable Value Limited showed Monday. This is the first time the trend in property values has improved since September 2007, the report said.

The average sales prices declined to NZ$372,981 in April from NZ$378,399 in March, reflecting more sales at the lower end of the market. The increased market activity seen in February and March flowed through into April, which led to more sales than normally expected for the time of year, Blue Hancock, spokesman with the QV noted. Moreover, lower interest rates and cheaper properties were leading first homebuyers and investors back into the market.

At the same time, Hancock said, Recent stabilization of property values in many areas suggests that we may be near the bottom of the market. We expect values to remain relatively flat over the winter months, although the threat of rising unemployment may affect an increasing number of homeowners and potential homebuyers. However, there will continue to be good opportunities for buyers who can afford to be in the market, the spokesman added.

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