Auckland house sales drop but prices remain high

The Auckland housing market was stable in October despite the political uncertainty, with prices steady although sales volumes dropped.

The number of sales fell to 634 in October from 778 in October 2016, the lowest in an October month for seven years, realtor Barfoot & Thompson said in a statement. New listings dipped 9 percent on an annual basis to 1,733, while stock available at the end of the month was 20 percent higher than a year earlier at 4,451.

"The Auckland housing market has been unfazed by the political change that has occurred," managing director Peter Thompson said. "There has been no panic selling, any hopes of post-election price increases have evaporated, the new government has done no more than confirm its pre-election commitments and buyers are still being cautious making purchase decisions."

New Zealand's property market has been slowing through the course of this year as Reserve Bank restrictions on more highly-leveraged mortgage lending and tighter credit criteria being demanded by banks made it more difficult for borrowers, even as low interest rates made it easier to service much larger debts. Quotable Value figures yesterday showed property value growth slowed to an annual pace of 3.9 percent in October as inflated Auckland house prices fell for the first time in six years.

During the housing market's last downturn in 2009 and 2010, sale prices remained largely static, with the slowdown showing up in smaller sales volumes, longer days to sell, and a build-up in available listings. In October 2010, Barfoot had 561 sales and 5,861 houses on its books at the end of the month.

Barfoot today said the elongated lag between election night and Government formation contributed to the low number of sales in October, and the market "is now well set for an active run into year end" as it enters what is traditionally the strongest sales period of the year.

The median sale price of $830,000 in October was unchanged from the same month a year earlier, and down 3.4 percent from September, while the average price of $910,537 was down 3.5 percent annually and 1.9 percent in the month.

(BusinessDesk)

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