WELLINGTON, May 3 (Reuters) - New Zealand's sizzling housing market cooled slightly in April to post its slowest growth in almost two years, government property valuer QV said on Wednesday.
Quotable Value's (QV) residential property price index rose 11.1 percent in the year to April, compared with an annual rate of 13.5 percent in the previous month.
The index is now 52.3 percent above the market's previous peak in late 2007.
April's comparatively muted growth, including a marked slow-down in the house price inflation epicentre of Auckland, will encourage the central bank which has raised concerns over the financial stability risk posed by the red-hot market.
Stricter lending rules introduced by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand last year to insulate banks from any housing downturn were behind the slowing growth. "Demand is still down as tougher lending restrictions continue to make it difficult for buyers requiring a mortgage to obtain finance for their purchases," said QV Auckland homevalue manager, James Steele.
House prices in the Auckland region were up percent 10.7 percent in the year, the slowest growth since December 2014, and they fell 0.4 percent in the three months to the end of April. (Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Eric Meijer)