House sales soar to three-year high

HOUSE SALES SOAR: Sales are up, prices are up and rents are up..
HOUSE SALES SOAR: Sales are up, prices are up and rents are up..

Sales are up, prices are up and rents are up.

The cause is a combination of low interest rates, earthquake displacement and sluggish new-home building even before the quakes.

The latest figures from the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) show that more than 1000 homes sold last month in Canterbury and Westland, the most since early 2009. The number of sales was double that of a year ago, when the region's property market was still in shock from the earthquakes.

Homes sold in a median of 33 days, the fastest in the country.

The institute gives the May median sales price as $349,000 in Christchurch, and $335,000 across the region. Meanwhile, state- owned valuation agency Quotable Value (QV) says the average price of a home in the city from March to May was $379,501.

The institute calculates a median (mid-point) figure for homes sold by real estate agents during one month, while QV provides an average figure from sales reported to local councils over a three-month period.

Apart from the slight variation of time frames and the difference between averages and medians, the two organisations also draw different city boundaries.

QV says home values in the city are up 5.4 per cent from a year ago, and are now about 1 per cent past their peak. This compares with a nationwide rise of 3.9 per cent.

Values just outside the city are the fastest rising in New Zealand. They are up by 14.1 per cent in Waimakariri and 9.3 per cent in Selwyn.

Real estate agents say they are seeing plenty of red-zoners buying, as well as new-home buyers taking advantage of record low mortgage interest rates, and landlords attracted by higher rents.

The institute describes Canterbury-Westland as the country's strongest housing market, while QV said Christchurch values had begun to rise again after faltering in the past two months.

Median sales prices in other parts of the region included: North Canterbury country $327,000, Central Canterbury country $437,000, Mid-Canterbury $247,000, Timaru $230,075, South Canterbury $204,750 and West Coast $215,000.

The Press