Auckland's housing market is under intense pressure, the number of houses for sale almost halving since a peak and sellers gaining the upper hand because of a scarcity of stock.
Property sales business website realestate.co.nz yesterday issued figures showing how for-sale numbers had fallen since 2008.
The listings business's chief executive, Alistair Helm, said: "The most listings Auckland has had lately - that's houses, apartments and lifestyle blocks but not sections - was in April 2008, when there were 18,266 properties listed.
"That fell to 14,154 properties last November, and last month it was down to just 10,685 properties, so that's a significant drop.
"At this current rate of sale, it would only take only 24 weeks to clear all the available stock in Auckland," Mr Helm said.
An Epsom family, with $1 million in cash, searched for three years and found only a few possible buys.
One house, valued at $1 million, sold for $1.73 million leaving the couple surprised and annoyed.
Joss Goodall, a Barfoot & Thompson agent, said the sale illustrated what happened when a scarcity of houses on the market combined with low interest rates and rising economic confidence.
House sellers have the advantage over buyers in 16 out of 19 regions in New Zealand as listing numbers drop and the sector prepares for a spring rush.
"In the space of two months, the regional picture of New Zealand has moved from a buyer's to a seller's market," Mr Helm said.
In all but four of the 19 regions, sellers now hold the upper hand. Despite the emergence of this seller's market, the asking price expectation of vendors fell by 4 per cent," realestate.co.nz said.
However, both realestate.co.nz and Barfoot & Thompson say they are yet to see Auckland's listing shortage push up sale prices.
The listings business showed prices had fallen, and Barfoots said that in May, it sold 889 properties for an average $529,889 but in June it sold 1153 properties for an average $521,119.
Realestate.co.nz said the number of unsold houses fell everywhere except in Northland, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa.
Pressure was most intense in Auckland, Otago, Nelson, the Otago Lakes area and Waikato, which have inventories well below the long-term average.
"Even in the context of the way the market has been moving, this is a dramatic drop in inventory. Winter is a slow time for new listings, but we're certainly seeing this more acutely than could have been predicted."
Levels may fall further in spring, when sales rise sharply as warmer weather brings out more buyers.
The rental market is also hot. Property managers Crockers said yesterday that two-bedroom places in the city were at an average of $365 a week - 20 per cent above the national average.
Rents for three-bedroom Auckland places jumped early this year and the June average was $486 a week - 30 per cent above the national average.By Anne Gibson @Anne Gibson Email Anne