House sale rebound 'lacklustre'

Last updated 18:13 05/06/2014

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House sales in Auckland rebounded last month, but economists believe they are generally slowing.

The city's biggest real estate agency, Barfoot & Thompson, sold 1109 houses in May, down 14 per cent compared with May last year, although it was a 37 per cent improvement on public holiday-affected April.

Westpac and ASB said there had been little let-up in the general weakening trend of house sales since last October.

Westpac's analysis showed monthly sales were up 2 per cent after a 10 per cent correction in April.

"That's a fairly lacklustre rebound, given our suspicion that the confluence of public holidays may have weighed on April activity by more than usual this year," Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said.

Sales were now 21 per cent lower than last August's peak in seasonally adjusted terms, he said.

Auckland's soaring house prices appear to have plateaued.

Barfoot's house prices were virtually static, with its average sales price easing 0.2 per cent from April to just under $703,000, Westpac said.

Annually, this was 9 per cent higher than a year ago.

The more volatile median sales price rose 2.8 per cent from April to $645,000.

Although prices were flattening out, a shortage of new listings and supply would underpin prices over the coming year, ASB's Christina Leung said.

Barfoot's new listings fell 19 per cent from the previous month and were up only 0.2 per cent from a year ago.

"The Auckland housing market remains extremely tight, with new Auckland house listings falling just under 20 per cent by our seasonally adjusted estimates," she said.

Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson said the overall picture was "by now a well-worn story".

"Auckland remains a city with a greater number of people chasing fewer properties," he said.

"Those properties that are priced sensibly to meet the market are selling quickly.

"Overall, the market is in line with seasonal activity, and we are likely to see further cooling, with average and median sales prices falling back slightly over the winter months.

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