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New Zealand property market off to a good start

‘It would not be too optimistic to say that the industry, certainly in terms of volume sales has turned a corner. Some parts turned that corner six months ago, notably Auckland, whilst some will take a few more months before witnessing this change,’ said REINZ director Alistair Helm.

The average asking price remained steady, down 1% to $417,740, showing sellers were not stretching prices expectations of buyers, said Helm.

In the 12 months of 2011 a total of 61, 269 properties were sold across the country as reported by the Real Estate Institute. ‘This represented a modest 9% growth as compared to 2010. The word modest is most appropriate when the volume of sales is viewed against the perspective of the past 20 years. 2011 was much improved from both 2008 and 2010 which represented the lowest sales volumes of the past 20 years, barely struggling to reach half the sales volumes of the peak years of 2002 to 2007,’ he explained.

He also pointed our that the new calendar year starts with low levels of inventory of properties for sale on the market which is matched by a sluggish flow of new listings, which is then meeting a rising demand in the rate of sale which is up 22% for the past 3 months as compared to the same period last year.
‘This scenario is most extreme in the three key regions of Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury which this rise in sales has driven the inventory levels to the lowest levels of the past four years, spanning a period when the property market has seen very lackluster activity,’ Helm said.

‘Historically the supply side of the property market tends to lag the demand side as measured by sales and it is likely that the coming two months of February and March will see heightened activity in new listings as the property market hits the peak of activity over these summer months,’ he added.

Barfoot and Thompson, Auckland's largest residential agency with 40% of the market, has reported its strongest January month in four years and said it expected gradual and modest increases in house prices over the first quarter of 2012.

The average sales price in January 2012 was $529,768, up 2.7% on a year ago. Sales numbers at 683 were up 21.3% and new listings at 1,031 were up 15.1%.

Managing director Peter Thompson said it was an extremely positive start to the year. ‘In January we sold more properties in the month than we have since 2007, prices reached their highest average ever for the month, new listings were up 15.1% and we sold double the number of million dollar homes than we did last January,’ he explained.

‘The seasonal dip in activity that occurs each year as a result of the Christmas, New Year and annual holiday breaks was present in the trading figures, but on every key measure this January was significantly ahead of that for January last year,’ he added

He predicts that from now until late autumn new listings and sales numbers will build before starting to ease with the approach of winter. ‘Buyers and sellers are taking a measured approach and it will result in the market remaining stable and positive,’ he said.