Auckland house prices rise in August

 Barfoot & Thompson says the market is firm ahead of the election.

Auckland's average house price gained in August, with the market remaining firm in the leadup to the general election this month, realtor Barfoot & Thompson says.

The average price rose 1.2% to $918,926 from a month earlier and was 1.4% higher than in August 2016, the city's biggest realtor said in a statement. Sales rose 4% compared to July, to 777, though they were down 23% on a year earlier.

"For the past six months there have been only minor variations in the pattern of lower sales numbers and prices remaining firm," Peter Thompson, managing director of Barfoot & Thompson, said. "The reality of the situation is that prices are remaining stable, and sales numbers are running at two-thirds of where they were 12 months ago."

There were 1260 new listings in the month, up 7.4% from a month earlier but down 26% from August 2016. Mr Thompson said this drop in listings was not unexpected one month out from a general election and the realtor had 3993 properties on its books at the end of August, the highest number of properties at the start of a September month for six years.

"It provides a good platform for the market to operate from once the election is behind us," Mr Thompson said. "With a well-performing economy, relatively low mortgage interest rates and strong population growth, there is every reason to anticipate over the medium term the housing market will retain people's confidence."

Sales of houses for less than $500,000 accounted for 11.6% of all sales in the month, while 35.5% of sales were for more than $1 million.

The data follows the QV house price index last week, which showed inflated Auckland house prices continued to moderate after several years of rapid gains, with annual growth in New Zealand property values dropping below 5% for the first time in five years.

The QV house price index rose 4.8% in the year to August, the slowest annual rate since August 2012 and down from an annual increase of 6.4% in July. Values increased 1.2% to a national average $641,648 in the three months ended August 31, more than double the previous market peak in late 2007.

QV noted that a lack of listings over winter, loan-to-value ratio mortgage restrictions and stricter lending criteria by retail banks led to a 30% drop in market activity and sales volumes compared to the same time last year, compounded by the general election, but that house prices may begin to rise again in the new year as the underlying drivers of a lack of supply and high net migration remain, particularly in Auckland.

(BusinessDesk)

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