The number of houses sold across New Zealand fell by 9.5% in February compared to the same time last year.
Data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) revealed that 5,954 residential properties were sold throughout the country last month compared to the 6,576 sold in February 2018. The data is even more pronounced in Auckland, where the number of properties sold in February fell by 17.9% year-on-year (from 1,654 to 1,358), representing the lowest for a non-January month since October 2010.
“The lower level of sales volumes compared to the same time last year can be attributed to a number of things – the raft of legislative changes impacting the housing market at the moment, the increasing difficulty in accessing finance (despite a record low OCR and very low mortgage rates from the banks) and vendors’ pricing expectations,” said Bindi Norwell, chief executive at REINZ.
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“What we’re hearing from salespeople around the country is that vendors and investors are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to the housing market – much like you would normally see around election time. This is particularly true in relation to the recently announced Capital Gains Tax proposals from the Tax Working Group. Families want to know what aspects of the proposals the Government will look at accept ahead of next year’s election and what impact that will have on them and their family.”
The drop in residential home sales runs counter to rising house prices across the country. According to REINZ data, even as sales dropped, median prices for homes across New Zealand increased by 5.7% in February to $560,000, up from $530,000 in February 2018. Median prices for New Zealand excluding Auckland were even stronger, increasing to a record $490,000 – up 8.9% from $450,000 in February last year.
In Auckland, however, median prices returned to the $850,000 mark – down 0.6% on last year’s figure of $855,000, but up 5.6% on January’s median price of $805,000.
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“Auckland’s median price fall was the result of a slight fall in the number of million dollar plus properties sold which fell from 36.9% in February 2018 to 36.1% this February,” said Norwell.
“Despite the annual fall in median price, there were some areas of the Super City that saw some growth including Auckland City where prices increased 3.9% to $1,000,000 – the highest price for Auckland City for 20 months. Additionally, Papakura District saw an annual increase of 3.8% to $649,000 and Franklin District saw an annual increase of 2.3% to $670,000. However, Rodney District and North Shore City saw annual median house price falls of 0.8% and 0.2% respectively,”