More homes under hammer

Record numbers of Christchurch properties are going under the hammer as Cantabrians turn to auctions to sell their homes.

Ray White Prier Manson Real Estate co-owner Craig Prier said auction numbers were the highest he had seen in 26 years.

"I would've called double the amount of auctions this year than I did last year."

And Harcourts Holmwood chief executive Tony Jenkins said auctions accounted for 40 per cent of all listings by Harcourts in Christchurch. In one office they make up 60 per cent of listings.

Before the February 2011 earthquake, about 20 per cent of all Harcourts listings were auctioned.

"It's hard to price property in this market, so we have seen a large growth in auctions," Jenkins said.

But a leading real estate figure has warned potential buyers to ensure they have pre-auction checks and finance secured because all auction sales are unconditional.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Canterbury region director Tony McPherson said the process was transparent but buyers needed to have "everything organised" in case their bid was successful.

Up to one-third of all listings were now being sold by auction and that method would only become more popular, he said.

Prier said more sellers were using auctions as their preferred method of selling, and most expected agents to discuss it as an option. "From a seller's point of view, it is the best way to get the best price and true market value," he said.

The trend towards auctions was across all price brackets, but most auction activity centred in the $350,000-$600,000 range, he said.

Harcourts Holmwood has called 49 auctions this month - 19 more than in December last year.

"We're expecting this sort of activity to continue into the new year. The summertime is always popular but this is far above the usual interest at this time of year," Jenkins said.

For the year to date, Harcourts Holmwood called 428 auctions, with 366 sold, 36 withdrawn and five under contract.

"In a market where it is hard to price property, auctions are proving very popular because they're transparent for both our vendors and buyers," he said.

"Properties marketed in this way attract three to four times the number of potential purchasers."

Jenkins said there was strong demand for properties priced $400,000 and above, with investors seeking houses in the mid price bracket.

But, auctions were happening across all price brackets.

Harcourts Vision owner Debbie Johnstone said auctions were extremely popular in Australia and would become more common in New Zealand.

Valuation agency Quotable Value said Christchurch's average home value rose 12.4 per cent in the past year and was now just over $450,000.

Across the Canterbury and Westland region, median prices rose 13 per cent to $389,750 in the past year, compared to the national median of $425,000.

A total of 888 homes sold in Canterbury-Westland in November, about the same as in October, and 579 sold in Christchurch city.

The Press