Sales drop around New Zealand, Real Estate Institute data shows
Property buyers hung back in every part of the country last month, new data shows.
Real Estate Institute figures reveal that in each region of the country the number of properties sold was down on August 2016.
That has only happened at three other times in the past seven years.
Overall, the number of properties sold across the country fell by 20 per cent during August, a reduction of 1472 properties, when compared to the same time last year. This is the equivalent of 47 less properties being sold each day in August 2017.
Regions with the biggest reduction in volumes were Southland (37.3 per cent), Northland (29.4 per cent), Taranaki (25.9 per cent), Waikato (25 per cent) and Auckland (21.5 per cent).
Bindi Norwell, the institute's chief executive, said it was a sign that tougher lending criteria from the banks and the loan-to-value rules were still affecting buyers.
"If you looked at the number of properties sold, without looking at the bigger picture, one might assume that the market was showing significant signs of slowing.
"However, as prices are holding up, and even increasing, then it suggests that people may be holding off from selling their property unless it's absolutely necessary," she said.
Residential property prices across New Zealand increased by 8.2 per cent year-on-year to $530,000.
Nationally, excluding Auckland, median prices increased 10.9 per cent year-on-year. Auckland median prices decreased by 1.2 per cent, year-on-year. Gisborne, Tasman and the West Coast also had price drops on an annual basis.
Compared to July, Auckland's price lifted 1.2 per cent, or $10,000.
Southland, Nelson, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu/Wanganui and Marlborough all experienced record prices.
Nelson - with a median price of $518,000 - now joins Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Tasman as a region that has had a median sales price over half-a-million-dollars at least once historically.
The data also suggests that the Waikato is not too far away from reaching this milestone, with four of the last five months having median prices in the $480,000 bracket.
The REINZ House Price Index, which measures the changing value of property in the market, showed that the value of dwellings in New Zealand overall increased by 0.5 per cent.
Excluding Auckland, national values increased by 7.0 per cent whereas in Auckland dwelling values decreased by 2.9 per cent.
The median number of days to sell a property nationally increased by seven days, from 30 to 37, when compared to August 2016.
Regionally, Waikato saw the biggest increase in the number of days to sell, up 11 days to 39, followed by Northland, up 10 days to 47.
The number of properties sold by auction continued to decline across New Zealand with 799 auction sales in August – down 55 per cent on the same time last year. Auctions now only represent 14 per cent of all sales nationally.
The number of properties available for sale nationally increased by 0.4 per cent compared to 12 months ago, whereas the number of properties for sale in the Auckland region increased by 27.3 per cent year-on-year.
"Despite the decrease in the number of properties sold, overall, the market is in a strong position as listings remain low and demand for good properties remains high.
"Agents across the country expect the market to pick up as we move into spring and even more so once the election is over," Norwell said.
Kiwibank economists said, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, Auckland price's edged up 0.3 per cent compared to the month before, but said it was too soon to say that was a sign the market had stabilised.
"Nevertheless, we continue to expect a small rebound in the housing market post the September election as we head into the busy summer-selling season.
"There remains notable supply and demand imbalances as population growth continues to out-strip growth in housing supply and net migration doesn't show any signs of turning around anytime soon. In addition, mortgage rates are still very low by historical standards."
Meanwhile, Trade Me's data showed Aucklanders were the most worried about the election.
The average asking price for the city's properties listed on the site dropped 2.1 per cent year-on-year. Outside Auckland, it rose 10.5 per cent.
Head of Trade Me Property Nigel Jeffries said the latest edition of the Trade Me Property Index showed the non-metro regions outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch were faring better with loan-to-value restrictions and pre-election nerves.
"While sellers in the regions are being restrained, with the number of listings down 19.6 per cent on this time last year, buyers are still keen with the average asking price jumping to $473,450," he said.
"However we're seeing some unusual activity in Auckland. Despite rising demand with new listing views up 15 per cent and supply struggling to keep up, we are not seeing the price movement we would expect.
"Auckland's average asking price is down 2.1 per cent since July to $892,450, dipping under the $900,000 threshold in August for the first time since January 2017."
Jeffries said he expected to see prices pick up again after the election. "Typically we'll see a resurgence in the market once sellers and buyers know which way the political winds are blowing.
"Both National and Labour have released significant policies regarding housing in the last few days so it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to possible home buyer grants or the banning of overseas speculators."