January 2012 data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) indicates a positive start to the year in the residential housing market, with 4,073 unconditional sales for the month. The volume of sales is up by 25.2% or 821 sales compared with the same time last year, and is the best January result the market has recorded since 2008. The national median house price remained steady at $355,000 in January compared to December and is up $15,000 (+4.4%) compared with January 2011.
In line with the usual pattern for this time of year, the January transaction numbers are lower than those of December. However, on a seasonally adjusted basis (which takes into account seasonal variations such as the New Year break) the national total was down just 4.0%. Only one region (Southland) recorded a decline in sales volume compared to January last year, with all other regions apart from Taranaki recording double digit growth.
Compared to December, Taranaki recorded the highest lift in prices for the month (+6.7%), followed by Manawatu/Wanganui (+6.5%) and Northland (+5.5%). Compared to January 2011, Taranaki also recorded the highest lift in prices (+11.4%), followed by Otago (+9.7%) and Canterbury/Westland (+8.3%). The REINZ Stratified House Price, which adjusts for some of the variations in mix which can impact on the median price, is 4.3% higher than January 2011 but has eased back in the past few months.
"The real estate market in January has continued on from the strong result in December, with a more than 25% lift in sales across the country compared to January last year and the highest number of transactions in a January month since 2008. " said REINZ Chief Executive Helen O'Sullivan. "A shortage of listings is still apparent in many areas with agents in a number of regions, including Auckland, reporting shortages of properties available to market and increasing levels of buyer frustration."
"Prices remain relatively stable despite the supply pressure, which probably reflects the reluctance of buyers to over extend themselves while economic uncertainty continues."
The national median 'days to sell' rose by 12 days in January compared to December, from 35 to 47 days; however on a seasonally adjusted basis the number of days to sell remained steady. Over the past five years the median days to sell has averaged 41 days across New Zealand.
Auckland recorded the shortest days to sell at 37 days (+6 days), followed by Canterbury/Westland with 39 days (+10 days) and Otago with 48 days (+17 days). Northland recorded the longest number of days to sell at 72 days (+18 days), followed by Waikato/Bay Of Plenty Lakes at 63 days (+16 days) and Manawatu/Wanganui at 61 days (+20 days.)
There were 231 sales by auction in January representing 5.7% of all sales, up from 137 sales (4.2%) in January 2011. Auckland represented the majority of auction sales at 68.9%, followed by Waikato/Bay Of Plenty (15.2%) and Canterbury/Westland (4.7%). All other regions combined accounted for the remaining 9.2% of auction sales.
In the Auckland region auction sales represented 11.2% of all sales, in line with the seasonal drop in auctions during January. After adjusting for seasonal factors, over 1 in 4 sales in the Auckland region are now concluded by auction.
Across New Zealand the total value of residential sales, including sections was $1.72 billion in January, compared to $2.32 billion in December 2011, and $1.33 billion in January 2011.
The breakdown of the value of properties sold in January 2012 is:
$1 million plus 105 2.6%
$600,000 to$999,999 513 12.6%
$400,000 to $599,999 1,032 25.3%
Under $400,000 2,423 59.5%
All Properties Sold 4,073 100.0%
The REINZ Housing Price Index eased 1.4% in January compared with December. The REINZ Housing Price Index recorded falls in Auckland and Christchurch, with increases in Wellington, Other North Island, Other South Island and Section. Compared to January 2011 the REINZ Housing Price Index rose 4.3%, and the Index is now 3.8% below the peak recorded in November 2007.
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