For the first time in four years the number of new properties listed for sale in January was less than that in December, real estate industry website Realestate.co.nz says.
The figures were published today in the website's monthly report of market activity.
Realestate.co.nz chief executive Alistair Helm said just 10,272 new listings came onto the market in January, down from 10,349 in December.
It was the first time in four years that the January figure had been lower than December, with the New Year traditionally showing a strong lift in listings to take advantage of increased summer activity.
Also, the national asking price in January fell to $405,040, a 1.8% drop from December's figure of $412,319, and a further slide of 3.5 percent from November's $419,586, Mr Helm said.
The January figure remained 5.6% below the market peak of October 2007 when the asking price reached $429,033.
Even with some vendors lowering their price expectations, buyers appeared to be biding their time in the expectation that prices would fall further in an increasingly crowded market.
"The level of sales remains static, showing no significant improvement. As a result, the inventory level of unsold houses has shot up significantly, as measured by the number of weeks of sales necessary to clear properties on the market," Mr Helm said.
In December, the inventory level was 34.3 weeks, but that jumped to 40.1 weeks in January, the highest since April last year.
"All three key indices from the January statistics, ie asking price, new listings and inventory level, show an absence of expected seasonal swings. This lack of typical seasonality underscores the state of dormancy within New Zealand property, and further highlights the fact that it continues to be a buyers' market."