The housing market has seen a midwinter pick-up according to two sets of real estate figures, but is not in a boom despite the median house price hitting a new record median price in June.
Keen home buyer interest in Auckland and Christchurch - which together make up about half of national activity - drove the national median price up 3.3 per cent from a year earlier to $372,000, the Real Estate Institute said.
However, REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan cautioned that the apparent strength of the market was still far from reaching the boom years of the mid to late nineties.
"The overall pattern for the rest of New Zealand shows improvement in sales volumes, with prices on the whole steady rather than up," she said.
There were 6135 unconditional sales in June, a rise of 906 sales compared to last year but a fall of 14.5 per cent from May.
Almost all regions experienced an increase in house sales compared to June last year, with Canterbury up 56 per cent, Northland up 39.1 per cent, and Hawke's Bay up 25.6 per cent. Only Taranaki recorded a fall in sales volume.
The highest lift in prices for the month was recorded in Central Otago Lakes, up 11.5 per cent, followed by Northland, up 10 per cent and Wellington, up 6.9 per cent.
The REINZ Stratified House Price Index, which adjusts for some of the variations that can impact on the median price, is 5.3 per cent higher than in June 2011 and is also at a record high.
Houses are taking less time to sell with the national median 'days to sell' falling by seven days to 37 days compared to June last year, but only one day less than May this year.
Canterbury and Westland recorded the shortest days to sell at 31 days, followed by Auckland at 32.
When it comes to how houses are being sold, auctions comprised 14.5 per cent of sales in June or some 891 houses, up from 11 per cent in June last year. Auctions were more popular in Auckland than elsewhere in the country.
The total value of residential sales, including sections, was $2.81 billion in June, compared to $3.3b in May and $2.26b in June 2011.
Of the properties sold, 54.6 per cent sold under $400,000, 26.5 per cent sold between $400,000 to $599,999, 14.5 per cent sold between $600,000 to $999,999 and 4.4 per cent sold for over $1 million.
QV FIGURES JUMP
House values jumped 4.2 per cent in the June year and were now only 1.3 per cent below the previous market peak of late 2007, according to QV.
QV.co.nz research director Jonno Ingerson said values in all the main centres increased over the past year and, apart from Wellington, had risen over the past three months.
"Sales activity has been significantly higher in the last few months than it has been for several years, with Auckland again stronger than most other areas."
However, the country was not experiencing a boom, given the number of sales was around one third below peak levels and the past year values had risen only one third as quickly as they did in the boom years 2003 to 2007.
Even in Auckland, the rapid house value increase over the past few months was less than the rate seen during the boom.
Values in the Auckland area are up 5.9 per cent over the past year, but recent months have seen more rapid growth with values up 1 per cent over the past month and up 2.6 per cent over the past three months.
Values are rising faster in Auckland city, up 6.8 per cent over the past year, followed by 5.6 per cent in North Shore and Manukau.
QV valuer Glenda Whitehead said properties in the leafy inner city suburbs continued to grow strongly in value, but this upward pressure had filtered out in all directions as buyers were forced to look wider to meet their needs within their range of affordability.
"First home buyers continue to step into the market and professional couples are either trading up or upgrading their current homes."
Hamilton values were up 1.7 per cent over the past three months, and are now 2.9 per cent higher than the same time last year. In contrast to Auckland, values in Hamilton remain 9.3 per cent below the 2007 market peak.
Tauranga values were up 1 per cent over the past three months and 2.1 per cent over the same time last year.
Wellington values have risen by 1.4 per cent in the past year, much more modest than the other main centres.
Values in Christchurch were up 5.8 per cent over the past year and 1.3 per cent over the past three months to sit 1.5 per cent above the peak of late 2007.
Dunedin values have been variable over the past few months but are 2.8 per cent above the same time last year and 4.3 per cent below the 2007 peak.
Most of the provinical centres have values within 2 per cent of this time last year, except Rotorua and Gisborne which are down 2.3 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively.
Steadily increasing values over the past six months mean that Palmerston North and Invercargill are 2.1 per cent and 2 per cent up from this time in 2011.
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