House sales down but prices holding, figures show

House sales have plummeted in Nelson and Richmond, but Motueka continues to be a star performer.

The latest figures from the Real Estate Institute show a sharp drop in the number of houses sold throughout the region in April compared with the previous month, and compared with the same month last year. However, prices continue to hold.

The trend is similar around the country, with sales down more than 20 per cent both the previous month and on April 2013.

Institute Nelson Marlborough spokesman Darryl Marshall said April figures this year were skewed by a large chunk of the month taken out by public holidays. Based on continued steady attendances at open homes around Nelson and Tasman, he predicted May's figures would show a bounce back.

He said it was important to note that the region was in sync with what was happening around the country, and did not stand out as being unique in terms of the drop in sales.

The number of houses sold throughout Nelson and Tasman fell 21 per cent in the month from March this year. In Nelson city the drop over that time was 36 per cent. In Richmond it was 24 per cent, but in Motueka there was a 17 per cent increase in the number of houses sold.

Compared to April last year sales volumes fell 23 per cent across the region, with sales falling 47 per cent in Richmond, 38 per cent in Nelson City. They rose 5 per cent in Motueka, but the area has also seen a drop in the median price.

The trend in Motueka has continued since late last year, which local Bayleys agent Rebecca Kristoffersen attributed to the number of people banking on moving there in the future and securing property now.

She said many buyers were people moving up to a new level of property.

"Motueka has such a strong rental market people are buying now with the aim of moving in the next few years," she said earlier this year.

Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said first home buyer activity remained "muted" across the region, although investor activity was stable.

"Open home attendances have been variable, although vendors are increasing their expectations. Despite this, the number of listings is falling," O'Sullivan said.

Marshall said April was a difficult month in terms of it including public holidays and school holidays. "There was the Easter and Anzac weekends which took a whole week of business out of the month, which represents a 20 per cent drop in activity.

"Open home attendances are still steady, especially with good new listings and buyers are still out there and making decisions quite quickly."

Marshall said buyers on the whole were well prepared and informed, and he suggested the figures for May would look different.

"Prices are holding. The median is experiencing a gentle increase in the region," he said.

The median house price for the Nelson-Tasman region increased by $34,000 [10.4 per cent] since last April, with prices rising the most in Richmond and Nelson.

In Nelson city, the median house price in April last year was $339,000 and this April it was $370,000. In Richmond, the median rose almost $150,000 from $355,000 to $499,500 but in Motueka the median price dropped from $341,500 to $302,000.

Summit Real Estate director Allister Nalder said lower availability of property in some price ranges was keeping prices firm.

"It's a simple equation of not enough supply to meet demand," he said.

The number of days to sell eased by three days compared to March, from 36 days in March to 39 days in April, figures showed.

Compared to April 2013, the number of days to sell eased by four days. Over the past 10 years the average number of days to sell in April across the region has been 41 days.

The Nelson Mail