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Auckland house sales dropped 14 percent in May from a year earlier as the market cooled ahead of winter, according to Barfoot & Thompson, the city's biggest realtor.
Sales dropped to 1,109 in May from 1,284 a year earlier, and were up 37 percent from April when the Easter public holidays fell. The average sale price dropped to $702,966 from $708,603 in April, but was still up from $644,737 in 2013. The median sale price rose 4 percent to $645,000 in the month, and was up from $570,000 a year earlier.
Listings fell to 3,498 in May from 3,623 in April and up from 3,034 the previous year. New listings fell 19 percent in May to a three month low of 1,318.
"It is by now a well-worn story, Auckland remains a city with a greater number of people chasing fewer properties," Barfoot managing director Peter Thompson said in a statement. "Overall the market is in line with seasonal activity, and we are likely to see further cooling with average and median sales prices calling back slightly over the winter months."
Auckland's property market has been a bugbear for the Reserve Bank as prices accelerated in the face of a supply shortage, and last October introduced restrictions on low-equity home lending as a means to cool the sector, without having to resort to early interest rate hikes. Since then, the bank has embarked on a tightening policy, hiking the official cash rate twice to 3 percent, and is widely expected to hike it for a third time next week.
In May, Barfoot sold 343 properties with a price tag of less than $500,000. That was about 31 percent of all sales in the month, down from 37 percent in April. Sales of $1 million homes rose to 188, from 120 in April.