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Auckland house prices weaken in February as volumes increase

Auckland house prices weaken in February as volumes increase; stable outlook ahead, Barfoot says

By Tina Morrison

March 5 (BusinessDesk) - House prices in New Zealand's largest city of Auckland are likely to remain stable over the remainder of the summer and autumn sales season as the number of properties on the market picked up and prices declined in the latest data for February, according to the city's largest realtor.

The average sale price fell to $919,454 in February, down 1.6 percent from January and 2.7 percent below February last year, Barfoot & Thompson said in a statement. The median price of $820,000 is 1.2 percent below January and unchanged from February last year.

Meanwhile, the 665 sales in February were 12 percent ahead of January, and 20 percent up from February last year. The number of new listings in the month of 1,747 is 46 percent up from January, although 24 percent below February last year.

"There is a growing acceptance that where prices are at presently is likely to be the benchmark for the remainder of the summer/autumn sales season," said Peter Thompson, managing director of Barfoot & Thompson. "Sales numbers were up, there was strong growth in new listings while prices, although softening a little on the previous three months, were stable."

Auckland's heated housing market has made accommodation unaffordable for many and caused headaches for policymakers as migrants and investors add to competition for a shortage of housing stock. However, the Barfoot data released today shows an increase in the number of houses offered for sale may be cooling the market, as the number of available properties at the end of the month rose to 4,648, 7.6 percent ahead of January's level and the highest since November last year.

"New listings being nearly three times greater than sales in the month resulted in a healthy level of available properties at month end," said Thompson.

The realtor noted that there were a relatively high number of properties sold in February for under $500,000. The 127 sales in this category accounted for 19 percent of all sales, up from 8 percent in January. Sales of properties above $1 million, and for more than $2 million, were in line with year-earlier levels.

(BusinessDesk)

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