Real estate market statistics issued today are showing a large increase in the number of properties sold in August compared with last year and prices across most parts of New Zealand rising.
The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand's latest monthly data showed 5192 unconditional sales for the month, up 905 or 21 per cent compared to August last year.
The Housing Price Index rose 0.5 per cent in August compared with July, with a median house price just over $363,000.
This index, which is less affected by a small number of high value houses selling, recorded increases in Auckland, Wellington, and the rest of the North Island. There were falls across the South Island.
Compared to August last year the REINZ Housing Price Index was stable, up 0.7 per cent. The index is now 4.7 per cent below the peak recorded in November 2007.
The volume of sales for August was up 264 from the month before. The national median house price rose by $10,000 to $355,000 - up 2.9 per cent) in August compared to July 2011 and just a $5,000 - up 1.4 per cent increase compared with August last year.
REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said there was a tight supply of new listings across the country.
"With the arrival of spring listings are showing signs of increase, but the impact of the Rugby World Cup and the General Election soon after makes it difficult to predict how the market will respond," she said.
ASB economist Christina Leung said today's data continued to point to a gradual pick-up in underlying housing market activity.
"Encouragingly, there continues to be a recovery in housing turnover in Canterbury in August, following the sharp drop in the wake of the earthquakes in June."
However a continued high level of household debt meant homeowners were likely to remain cautious, she said.
Government valuer Quotable Value has also released property stats today, which largely back up a gradual increase in national values during August.
"Nationwide property values have again increased slightly over the past month and are now 0.1 per cent above the same time last year and 5 per cent below the market peak of 2007" said QV Valuation's Glenda Whitehead.
"Although nationwide values are gradually increasing, there remain differences between areas, with the Auckland and Canterbury areas in particular helping to hold up values overall" she said.
"Values in the Auckland area have increased 2.8 per cent since January, and are now 2.2 per cent above the same time last year and only 0.3 per cent below the previous market peak of late 2007. With the exception of the Rodney area, values have grown in recent months across the Auckland Supercity," said Whitehead.
She said the old Auckland City had increased the fastest - by 3 per cent over the past year, and was now 1.5 per cent above the previous market peak of 2007. North Shore had increased 2.4 per cent over the past year, and Waitakere and Manukau just over one per cent.
Values in Hamilton and Tauranga were stable, though still below last year's values.
Dunedin had seen some volatility in values over the past year but values in general appeared to be decreasing, and were now 2.9 per cent below this time last year, said Whitehead.
Wellington area values had continued to decline, dropping 1.9 per cent since January and 2.4 per cent over the past year.
"Unlike Auckland where values are now just below the previous market peak, Wellington is 7.7 per cent below. However there are the first signs that values may be levelling off," said Whitehead.
In Christchurch values have been increasing steadily for the past few months, she said, driven by good demand for houses in areas undamaged by the earthquake.
Compared to this time a year ago values are up by 1.7 per cent, with most of that growth being in the past few months. Areas surrounding Christchurch had seen strong value growth over the past year with the Selwyn, Waimakariri and Ashburton Districts all up by around 4 per cent.
"The improvement in volumes over the past few months is a positive sign, however prices remain essentially steady. One interesting aspect of the market is how well informed buyers appear to be and how focused they are on buying at what they see as their level."
The national median 'days to sell' (measuring the number of days from listing date to unconditional date) improved by 3 days from 42 days in July to 39 days in August.
"The real estate market appears to be fairly well balanced at present", said O'Sullivan. "Volumes are rising, listings are short and the days to sell measure is gently declining. The one piece that isn't showing any discernable trend is prices, which continue to move sideways."
- NZ HERALD ONLINE