Manawatu/Whanganui housing shortage begins to ease with NZ's highest increase in listings

There are more houses available to buy in Palmerston North.
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

There are more houses available to buy in Palmerston North.

More houses are available for purchase in Manawatu, boosting a critically low supply. 

Experts say the only thing holding the Manawatu-Whanganui housing market back  in the past year has been a shortage of houses on the market. Now there's some early indications this may be changing.

Figures from property website realestate.co.nz show Manawatu-Whanganui had the highest annual percentage increase in houses listed for sale this November, at 17.1 per cent.

The next-largest increases came in Auckland, with a 10.7 per cent increase compared to November last year, and Otago, with a 10.2 per cent rise.

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Realestate.co.nz chief executive Brendon Skipper said the jump in new listings had not come at the expense of price. 

"Remarkably, properties are turning over more quickly in this region compared to Auckland," Skipper said.

If there were no new properties listed in the Manawatu/Whanganui region, there would be no properties left for sale within 13 weeks. In Auckland, it would take 14 weeks to clear all current property listings.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Manawatu spokesman Andy Stewart said the increase had been easy to miss for real estate agents during day-to-day business, but it was clear to see in the figures.

In the past year, Palmerston North listings increased 18 per cent, and in Feilding the number of houses on the market increased by 25 per cent, he said.

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"Working on the coal face ... we just haven't noticed the increase as much as you might expect. That's largely because we've been at such a low level of listings."

Edwin and Susan Pain sold their Kelvin Grove home this week, after listing it just before the start of November.

It was quite a large house, and with their  children having grown and moved out, and the couple getting older, it was becoming a struggle to keep the place in order, Edwin Pain said.

They felt now was the best time to sell up and move to a smaller place in a retirement village.

"The market being quite good at the moment was a bit of an influence, but it wasn't the main reason. We always intended to go, but it just seemed like it was a good time to do it."

Stewart said there had been a shortage of houses listed in Manawatu-Whanganui for a couple of years and stock had become critically low last year.

At the long-term average levels of house listings, the region would run out of houses in 37 weeks if no new homes came on the market.

Even with the increase, the 602 houses listed in November would be gone in half that time. 

Stewart said it was very encouraging for the region to finally see a solid increase in listings.

"[If it continues], it could see the dynamics of the whole market shift."

Stewart has previously told Stuff that people have been hesitant to put their homes up for sale because rising prices and fierce competition meant they were uncertain they could get a new place.

This can lead to a cycle where there are  fewer houses available, so prices rise further in response and competition gets more intense, so people hesitate to trade in for a new house they're unsure they'll get. 

He said it was too early to tell if people had been encouraged to list their homes by the positive national attention the region's housing market had been getting, including a segment on TV3's current affairs show Story on Wednesday that favourably compared Palmerston North's affordable houses and lifestyle against Auckland.

Spring is also traditionally the time of year with the highest listings.

Homeowners felt their properties looked their best with the flowers blooming in the garden and plentiful sunshine, rather than the wet, grey weather there had been in the winter months, Stewart said.

 

 

 - Stuff

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