House sales fall in June, led by cheaper properties

Real Estate Institute of NZ Chief Executive Helen O'Sullivan

New Zealand house sales fell in June from a year earlier, led by properties of $400,000 or less, indicating the Reserve Bank's restrictions on low-equity loans are curbing demand at the cheaper end of the market.

Sales fell 6.1 percent in June from the same month of 2013 to 5,763 and were down 12.3 percent from May, according to the Real Estate Institute. The national median price rose $33,250, or 8.4 percent, in the year to $427,250 and was 0.6 percent lower than in May.

The central bank introduced restrictions on high loan-to-value mortgages last October to take the steam out of the housing market in Auckland and Christchurch which it said could stoke inflation. Since then the percentage of loans at LVRs of 80 percent or more have fallen to 5.6 percent in May, slightly up on the first months of the year, but well below October's 11.5 percent rate.

The number of sales below $400,000 fell by 17 percent in June, from a year earlier, following a 25 percent annual drop recorded in May, which the REINZ said may be a reflection of the LVR restrictions. Sales of properties with a price tag of more than $1 million rose 19 percent in the year, to make up 7 percent of all sales in June, while sales between $600,000 and $999,999 rose 6.5 percent in the year to make up 20 percent of sales. Houses in the $400,000 to $599,999 price range rose 2.3 percent compared to a year earlier to make up 28 percent of total sales.

The number of days to sell increased by five to 39 in June compared to a year earlier, one day longer than in May.

"Volumes continued to trend down in June, as they have done for the past several months," said REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan. "We are starting to see a number of regions record annual falls in the number of sales at around 20 percent, with only modest increases in those regions where sales numbers are rising."

The stratified median housing price index fell 0.3 from May. In Auckland, prices rose 1.6 percent in the month on that measure, Christchurch fell 1.9 percent and Wellington dropped 4.3 percent. Over the year the national index increased 6.2 percent, with the Auckland index 6.5 percent higher, the Christchurch index up 5.5. percent and the Wellington index declining 3.1 percent.

The total value of residential sales, including sections, was $3.08 billion in June, compared to $3.06 billion a year earlier and $3.55 billion in May. For the 12 months ended June 30 the total value of residential sales was $39.58 billion.

(BusinessDesk)

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