Property sales fall across New Zealand but prices up in most locations

Residential property sales in New Zealand fell by 9% month on month in October and are now 14% below where they were a year ago according to the latest index figures.

The data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) also shows that sales fell year on year in Auckland by 16% and in Waikato Bay of Plenty by 25%.

But despite the drop in sales property prices have not been subdued. Indeed four regions recorded record high median prices in October. In Auckland prices increased by 5% month on month and at 868,000 are 16% higher than a year ago.

Three other regions posted record median sale prices in October with Northland reaching $399,000, Waikato Bay of Plenty up to $460,750 and Southland equalling its record high of $225,000 reached in January 2008.

However, nationally prices fell slightly b 1% to $515,000 although they are still up 10.9% compared to October 2015. Central Otago Lakes recorded the largest increase in median price compared to October 2015 with growth of 42%, followed by Waikato Bay of Plenty at 21% and Auckland at 16%.

The index figures suggest that a lack of supply is keeping prices high. Inventory is continuing to rapidly fall nationwide, with a 17% decline in properties available for sale year on year and four regions with less than 12 weeks of supply, representing almost 22% of sales volumes.

The data shows that Wellington has six weeks of supply available, with Hawke’s Bay under 10 weeks supply, and Nelson/Marlborough and Otago with 11 weeks supply.

‘Auckland experienced a lot of strength in the upper end of the market but the lower end appears to be wavering due to the impact of LVRs. The national sales volumes fell by 14% in October compared to the same time last year and the number of properties for sale has fallen by almost 7,400 over the past year,’ said REINZ spokesperson Bryan Thomson.

‘Our data suggests that the impact of the revised LVR rules is having more of an effect on lower-priced sales compared to higher priced sales, with a surge in the percentage of sales over $1million and a noticeable decline in the number of sales below $400,000 compared to 12 months ago,’ he explained.

‘Some of this change may be reflective of the overall uplift in prices over the past year as the market for higher-priced properties is continuing as normal, but the market for lower priced properties is becoming more difficult for both buyers and sellers,’ he added.

Thomson also pointed out that there is some evidence that the normal spring ‘bounce’ in the number of listings has so far been quite weak this year. ‘One possible reason for this is that the revised rules could be making it harder for people to know whether to sell, as they wonder if there are buyers about, so they hold their properties back from the market,’ he said.

‘This could have the result that we’re seeing, which is that supply falls but the demand is still there, so prices keep rising, he added.

The number of days to sell eased one day to 32 days compared to October 2015, although the regions have seen some significant movements with five regions seeing an increase in the number of days to sell and seven regions a decrease. Otago and Nelson/Marlborough had the shortest number of days to sell in October at 23 days followed by Wellington and Manawatu/Wanganui at 27 days.

Million dollar homes show largest increase in volumes year on year with the number of homes sold for more than $1 million up by 22% to 977 homes to equal almost 15% of all dwellings sold. The number of properties sold under $600,000 fell by 1,216 year on year compared to a fall of 1,111 for all dwellings.