Agent numbers point to Auckland rebound

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 12:36 04/04/2014

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Auckland's housing market rebounded in March as it entered its traditionally busiest month.

The city's largest real estate agency, Barfoot & Thompson, reported 1392 sales, an 80 per cent increase on February.

When this figure was seasonally adjusted, ASB said, the volumes were up a more modest 8.2 per cent on the previous month and down 2.7 per cent for the year.

Barfoot & Thompson chief executive Wendy Alexander said new listings at her agency last month were the highest in March for six years.

"Properties are selling quickly because they are priced sensibly to meet the market," she said.

Barfoot's median house sales price rose 7 per cent on the previous month to $652,000, well above the Real Estate Institute's February median for the Auckland region of $535,000.

Commentators have noted that with many first-home buyers out of the picture because of limits on low-deposit mortgages, sales of higher-priced homes may be skewing the price upwards.

ASB economist Daniel Smith said March was a traditionally a big month for house sales, but the loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions were still having an effect.

Sales under $750,000 had picked up nearly 8 per cent from February but were still about 20 per cent below the level seen before the low-deposit limits came into effect last October.

In Westpac's view, while the Auckland market had cooled substantially, "these details go in the direction of our view that the peak impact of the LVR limits is passing".

New listings, ASB said, picked up nearly 8 per cent and up 15.5 per cent for the year.

However, inventory was still low, with the total number of houses on Barfoot's books down 1.1 per cent on the previous month and 4.1 per cent for the year.

Smith said that tentative signs this week that the housing supply was starting to increase in Auckland still had to deal with an historically low level of houses on the market.

"Housing market pressures have eased over the last six months, but a continuing supply shortage in Auckland will maintain upwards pressure on prices," he said.

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- Fairfax Media

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