December house sales no barometer: agents

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 11:14 15/01/2013

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Hamilton real estate agencies say a 4.5 per cent fall in house sales last month compared to December 2011 should be taken with a grain of salt, and they remain more optimistic about the market than they have been in years.

Real Estate Institute figures for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty residential property market in December show in all parts of this region, apart from Waikato country, sales numbers fell year on year, and that sales last month were 27 per cent down on the previous month, November.

But agencies who earlier this week forecast the brightest market prospects this year for five years, say December is really only a three week month, that agencies reporting to the REINZ do not always give figures for the full month, and that many sales made last month will not be unconditional until this month and therefore are not included in the REINZ figures for December.

Lodge Real Estate managing director Jeremy O'Rourke says the more important sales figure is for the December quarter, which showed 703 sales across all city agencies - the highest since the boom year of 2007.

Harcourts Hamilton principal Brian King said December was a "very messy" month for sales reporting and he remains very happy with December performance.

Lugton Real Estate principal David Lugton also questioned REINZ's December year-on-year figures of 192 sales for Hamilton city last month compared to 204 in December 2011.

His analysis showed around 199 for December 2011 and he believed last month's sale volumes were on a par with that.

"You can't really tell what is happening with the market until February and March."

Lugton expects this month's sales in Hamilton to hit 150 or more. In January last year there were 131 sales.

REINZ said out of the Waikato, only Taupo showed an increase in sales in December compared to November.

The median price across the Waikato-Bay of Plenty region rose by 5.2 per cent or $15,750 compared to December 2011, with Taupo, eastern Bay of Plenty country and Tauranga posting increases of more than 10 per cent.

The median price for Hamilton city last month was $337,500, unchanged from December 2011. November's median city price was $334,000. 

The national median house price last month was a record $389,000, up nearly 10 per cent on December 2011.

REINZ says 74,000 houses sold last year, a 21 per cent increase on 2011 and the highest number since 2007.

Sales by auction grew by 68 per cent last year.REINZ said there were 134 sales in Waikato country areas last month, compared to 129 in December 2011.

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The national median days to sell improved by one day last month compared to November, from 33 to 32 days. In the Waikato-Bay of Plenty the median time to sell was 52 days. 

- Waikato

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