Activity is picking up in regional New Zealand ahead of the loan-to-value speed limit introduction at the end of the month, the Real Estate Institute says.
It has released its latest data, showing there were 6548 dwelling sales in the month of August, up 8.5% on August last year but 3.4% lower than July.
The national median price rose $5000 compared to July to $390,000, and is now $10,000 below the record median set in March 2013.
Chief executive Helen O’Sullivan said: “Agents from around the country are reporting strong activity from first-home buyers moving to secure properties ahead of the Reserve Bank’s LVR changes. However, the reports suggest that this is occurring more in the regions, rather than in Auckland and Christchurch where we are seeing the greatest price pressure.”
She said the market was active overall, with sales volumes about what would normally be expected for this time of year. “There are, however, signs of a slowdown in the rate of sales volume growth. In August last year sales growth was running at 12% per annum and peaked at 33% per annum in April. Now, it has eased to 9% per annum and is trending down.”
Only Northland, Auckland and Waikato/Bay of Plenty are reporting volume trends above the national average, with all other regions well below the average. “Compared to the previous market volume peak during 2001 to 2004 volumes have not risen as fast in this cycle and are now trending down more quickly.”
She said a lack of listings was a key factor.
“Agents report across the country that potential sellers are taking a ’wait and see’ attitude both in terms of rising prices and what effect the Reserve Bank’s new lending policy will have on the market. This uncertainty in the short term is exacerbating the problem of supply, although there should be a traditional lift in properties for sale as Spring takes hold.”
There were 6548 unconditional residential sales in August, an 8.5% increase on August 2012, and a fall of 3.4% compared to July 2013.
On a seasonally adjusted basis the volume of residential sales was down 0.6% compared to July, and up 11.7% compared to August 2012.
All but one region recorded increases in sales volume compared to August last year, with Northland recording an increase of 15.3%, followed by Auckland with 12.6% and Canterbury/Westland Lakes with 12.1%. Nine regions recorded a decrease in sales volume in August compared to July, with Waikato/Bay of Plenty and Southland both recording a decrease of 9.7%, followed by Manawatu/Wanganui with a decrease of 5.5% and Nelson/Marlborough with a decrease of 5.1%.
The national median house price rose by $5,000 (+1.3%), from $385,000 in July, to $390,000 in August. Compared to August 2012 the national median house price increased by $20,000 (+5.46%), with 12 regions recording an increase in the median price. Three quarters (75.1%) of the increase in the national median price compared to August last year occurred in Auckland and 8.4% occurred in Canterbury/Westland. Together these two regions accounted 83.5% of the increase in the median price between August 2012 and August 2013.
Three other regions are at or near their highest median prices. Nelson/Marlborough recorded a new record median price of $366,500. Compared to August 2012 Hawkes Bay recorded the largest increase in median price, up 15.7%, followed by Manawatu/Wanganui with 11.6%. Auckland’s increase was 11.4% and Canterbury/Westland achieved 5.8%.
The REINZ Stratified Housing Price Index, which adjusts for some of the variations in mix that can impact on the median price, reached a new record high in August and is 9.5% higher than August 2012. The Auckland Index also reached a new record high in August and has risen 17.9% compared to August 2012. The Christchurch Index is up 6.1% and the Wellington Index is up 4.4%.
Houses took one day less to sell in August compared to July, improving from 35 days in July to 34 days in August. Compared to August 2012, the number of days to sell also improved by one day.