Supply of houses for sale steady - agents

By Joseph Aldridge

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Tauranga real estate agents say the supply of properties on the market has been steady, despite figures showing a big drop in listings in the Bay of Plenty.

December property market information released by Realestate.co.nz shows a 16.9 per cent drop in the number of new listings in the Bay compared to December 2011.

The drop in listings has contributed to a lower-than-average number of properties for sale, pointing the market towards a direction that could be positive for sellers, the report says.

However, as yet there has been no region-wide increase in price, with the average asking price falling 0.5 per cent from November to December.

The average asking price for properties in the Bay of Plenty in December was $415,544.

Realty Services chief executive Ross Stanway said he had not noticed a drop-off in listings in the Western Bay, suggesting there may have been a large drop in listings in the Eastern Bay.

"The final quarter was a very productive time both in terms of buying and selling and we had a very strong run-up to Christmas."

Mr Stanway said inventory levels were low compared to the five-year average because the property market had been inflated five years ago and had left a lot of difficult-to-sell houses on listings.

Also, a lot of prospective sellers had held back from listing their property's in recent years as they waited for sales prices to rise.

"A lot of prospective vendors have been waiting to see some positive change and the only change has been in the volume without that affecting price."

Price stability was actually a positive factor for Tauranga, Mr Stanway said.

"The maintaining of price levels is a positive and we're not seeing those unsustainable price increases that we're seeing in Auckland."

Harcourts Advantage Realty Bay of Plenty managing director Simon Martin said December sales figures, which have not been released yet, will give a better indication of market direction.

A significant increase in the number of sales would likely cause the average asking price to rise.

"With what's going on in Auckland and Hamilton, anyone would expect there to be a slight change in how our market has been in the past few years."

Mr Martin said if 15 per cent of the houses on the market were selling, this would push the average sales price up. At last check, the Tauranga market was sitting at about 10 per cent, he said.

Rodney Fong from Ray White Tauranga said low inventory levels would eventually cause prices to rise.

"Because of [the low inventory levels] timeframes for selling are shortening because there's not as many properties for buyers to chose from."

Consistently low levels of inventory would cause property prices to increase, Mr Fong said.

LJ Hooker Tauranga principal Neville Falconer said his office had seen a steady supply of property listings over December.

"It hasn't been difficult to source good listings for prospective buyers, but it's a matter of talking about saleable listings. Twelve months ago there were a lot of houses on the market but not really on the market."

Sellers had been asking unrealistic prices for their houses and the properties had not sold.

Many of those people had now either withdrawn their property's from the market or reduced their asking prices to more realistic levels, he said.

Nationally, the property market began the New Year with an ease in asking prices, but registered the lowest number of properties for sale on record, with new listings dropping over the traditionally quiet month of December.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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