March 2012 data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) indicates strong sales growth in the residential housing market, with 7,330 unconditional sales for the month.
The volume of sales is up by 25.3% or 1,482 sales compared with the same time last year, and is the best monthly result the market has recorded since November 2007.
The national median house price reached a new record high of $370,000 in March, up 1.4% compared to March last year.
Auckland also recorded a new record median of $495,200, up 5.4% compared to March last year.
In line with the usual pattern for this time of year, March sales volume increased from February, increasing by almost 20%. However, on a seasonally adjusted basis the national sales volume was up just 4.8%. All regions recorded increases, and apart from Hawkes Bay, Wellington and Otago those were double digit increases compared to March last year. Canterbury/Westland's sales volume more than doubled compared to March last year when the market was impacted by the February 22 earthquake and its aftermath.
Compared with February 2012, Southland recorded the highest lift in prices for the month (+9.7%), followed by Auckland with +5.8%, and Otago with 2.9%. Compared to March 2011, Otago recorded the highest lift in prices (+14.8%), followed by Canterbury/Westland with 10.3% and Hawkes Bay with 8.1%. The REINZ Stratified House Price, which adjusts for some of the variations in mix that can impact on the median price, is 4.2% higher than March 2011.
"The real estate market has had a strong March with the largest number of sales in a month since November 2007 and a new record national median price," said REINZ Chief Executive Helen O'Sullivan. "The new record median price is only $2,500 higher than the previous high set in November 2011 and is only $5,000 higher than the median price in March 2011. Prices are certainly not rising sharply, but the trend is certainly starting to move upwards.
The Auckland region has also recorded a new record median price, reflecting the rising demand for housing in the city and the continuing shortages of available stock, as highlighted by the Productivity Commission report released earlier this week. Auckland Central and the North Shore area are both stand outs in terms of the upwards impact these combined factors are having on prices."
"Outside of the Auckland and Canterbury regions most of the country is seeing an upward trend in sales volumes, although price gains outside of these centres are relatively modest."
The national median 'days to sell' fell by 11 days in March compared to February, from 46 to 35 days. Over the past five years the median days to sell has averaged 41 days across New Zealand, indicating a significant increase in the pace at which the market is moving.
Auckland and Canterbury/Westland recorded the shortest days to sell at 31 days, followed by Southland with 33 days and Wellington with 34 days. Northland recorded the longest number of days to sell at 72 days, followed by Central Otago Lakes at 60 days, and Taranaki and Waikato / Bay of Plenty both at 49 days.
There were 1,187 sales by auction in March representing 16.2% of all sales, up from 752 sales (12.9%) in March 2011. Transactions in Auckland dominated the auction market, representing 70.9% of the national total of auction sales. 29.6% of all dwelling sales in Auckland were by this method. Transactions in Waikato/Bay of Plenty accounted for 12.3% of the national total of auction transactions, and Canterbury/Westland accounted for 8.3% of the national total of auction transactions, and all other regions combined accounted for the remaining 8.5% of auction sales.
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