NZ house sale volumes drop across all regions in September
By Tina Morrison
Oct. 12 (BusinessDesk) - The number of property sales across New Zealand dropped 26 percent last month, with all 16 regions recording a decline, according to the Real Estate Institute.
A total of 5,428 properties were sold across the country in September, down from 7,352 sales in September last year and marking the lowest level for the month in six years, REINZ said. The median number of days it took to sell a property increased to 34 from 31 in September 2016 while the number of auctions, which is generally an indicator of a heated housing market, slid 55 percent.
The steam is coming out of the country's heated property market after moves by the central bank to clamp down on the level of high loan-to-value ratio mortgages amid concern rising prices were a risk to the nation's financial stability. The latest figures may also have been impacted by wet weather and uncertainty around the Sept. 20 general election, with some parties campaigning on reducing the record immigration levels which have stoked housing demand.
"The soggy start to spring combined with the 'election effect' has had a significant impact on the number of sales across the country - this is the lowest number of sales in eight months, and the lowest number of sales in the month of September for six years," said REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell. "As the weather warms up we expect the market to pick up again.
"It's not all doom and gloom as there are pockets of the country experiencing increases month-on-month and median prices are increasing in the majority of regions across the country."
The REINZ house price index edged up 0.7 percent in September from August to a record 2,699. All regions except Auckland, Taranaki and Canterbury reached a new high during September, indicating strong value growth across most of the country, the institute said.
When compared with September last year, the highest value growth was recorded in Gisborne/Hawke's Bay, up 15 percent, Manawatu-Wanganui, up 13 percent, and Wellington and Northland, both up 12 percent, the institute said.
The number of properties available for sale fell 2.6 percent to 21,727 from year-earlier levels. In the Auckland region, the number of properties for sale jumped 14 percent to 7,429, while outside Auckland the house sale inventory fell 9.5 percent to 14,298, highlighting the impact Auckland has on the nationwide data.
The median house price lifted 1.2 percent to $525,000 compared with the year earlier. Excluding Auckland, the median price lifted 5.7 percent, while Auckland's median price remained flat at $845,000, the institute said.
Only two regions experienced a drop in median prices compared with their year-earlier levels, with prices in the West Coast falling 16 percent to $208,500 and Canterbury down 3.2 percent to $426,000, the institute said.
"Prices across the country increased in all but three regions, evidence that he market continues to grow despite some challenging conditions - including the LVR restrictions and banks continuing to tighten lending conditions," Norwell said. "Much of the increase has been driven by the buoyancy in the regions."