Sellers struggle as buyers haggle

The number of houses sold in Palmerston North has dropped by 27 per cent as buyers become "pretty hard to deal with".

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand's summary of the market for February, released yesterday, show just 83 houses were sold in the city last month, down from 114 during the same period last year.

REINZ Manawatu spokesman Andy Stewart said February was always the indicator month after the traditional lull in December and January, and the signs were that it was not a sellers' market.

"The bottom end of the market has slowed right off. Buyers are pretty hard to deal with at the moment. They will walk right away if they don't get a property for the price they want. I thought we would have had closer to 100 properties sold this month but it's well and truly down on that."

While the bottom of the market was probably being hardest hit, the top end was not being spared either, Mr Stewart said.

Of the 83 houses sold in February, just nine went for more than $500,000. There were no million dollar houses sold.

But it was not all doom and gloom. An increase in the number of listings could drive more sales in March and prices remained relatively stable with the median house selling for $285,000, up $5000 on January and $20,000 on a year ago.

In Feilding and Levin, the number of sales was the same as in February 2013 - 24 and 36 respectively.

The national median price of homes sold last month was $415,000, up from $402,000 in January but below December's record median price of $427,000.

The national median price has increased 8.6 per cent in the past 12 months.

The number of sales was down, with contracts on 6125 homes becoming unconditional last month, a drop of 7.6 per cent compared with February last year.

Manawatu Standard