Auckland house sales drop in August as winter, election weigh

Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson

Auckland house sales fell for a third month in August and the number of listings remained muted in the tail-end of winter and lead-up to this month's general election, according to realtor Barfoot & Thompson.

The number of sales fell to 909 in August from 983 in July, and 1,200 in the same month a year earlier, Auckland's biggest realtor said in a statement. New listings fell 19 percent to 1,129 in August from July, and were down 34 percent from a year earlier. The average sales price slipped 1.1 percent to $711,768, and was still up 9.9 percent from August 2013.

"This was not unexpected as the market invariably goes quiet in the build-up to general elections," managing director Peter Thompson said. "Certainty will return post the election, and the final three months of the year are likely to see greater activity than normal as the regular five-month spring/summer pre-Christmas season is compressed into three months of trading."

Both major political parties are promising shake-ups to the property sector to try and rein in housing affordability. The incumbent National Party will let prospective buyers access more of their KiwiSaver savings for more expensive housing, and has introduced rules to let councils fast-track residential development, while the opposition Labour Party has promised to introduce a capital gains tax, and embark on a major house building exercise over the coming decade.

Barfoot today said the busiest sector of the market was houses under $500,000, which accounted for about a third of all activity in August, up 5.2 percent from July. Activity in that sector was the hardest hit by the Reserve Bank's restrictions on mortgage lending with small deposits, which aimed to take the heat out of a bubbling property market.

The firm sold 149 million-dollar-plus houses in August, down 12 percent from July and the lowest number for four months.

At the end of August, Barfoot had 3,226 houses on its books, down 1.4 percent from July, though up from 2,999 in August 2013.


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