Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Aucklanders ask record house prices

Pent-up demand combined with low interest rates has seen some buyers face a long search for a suitable property, particularly in central Auckland. Photo / Thinkstock
Pent-up demand combined with low interest rates has seen some buyers face a long search for a suitable property, particularly in central Auckland. Photo / Thinkstock

Auckland's property market has entered its peak spring season with record-high asking prices and a continuing shortage of listings.

Pent-up demand combined with low interest rates has seen some buyers face a long search for a suitable property, particularly in central Auckland.

Figures released yesterday by Realestate.co.nz show those frustrations are likely to continue, with Auckland registering another off-the-graph average asking price in August.

The seasonally adjusted average for asking prices in the region hit a five-year high of $585,482, rising 1.8 per cent over the month.

"The sellers' market that has persisted for much of this year has not abated, but buyer interest remains high," said Paul McKenzie, marketing manager of Realestate.co.nz.

The monthly report also showed that in August, homes for sale in Auckland dropped to 9858 - a record low inventory of 18 weeks.

By comparison, the national inventory sits at 31 weeks.

Inventory is measured by the projected number of weeks it would take to clear existing stock of unsold homes on the market. Auckland's long-term average is 32 weeks.

The chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, Helen O'Sullivan, said agents were hoping more properties would be listed over the next three months - usually the busiest time for listings.

"The biggest issue in the market right now is stock, particularly in Auckland, but we hear the same message all around the country really."

Ms O'Sullivan said Barfoot & Thompson figures released this week, which showed its highest number of August listings for four years, were "remarkable".

During August, Barfoot & Thompson listed 1417 new properties - up 9.4 per cent on listings in July and 10.5 per cent higher than in August last year.

But despite the influx, the Auckland agency had only 3777 properties on its books at month's end - the lowest number in the past 10 years.

"Ordinarily at this time of year it's pretty quiet. But the buyers are out there ... the demand is there," Ms O'Sullivan said.

But she noted that despite the demand, Barfoot's average price had only increased by less than 2 per cent over the past three months, to $592,395.

"You hear a lot about a property selling for 150 per cent of CV. Those are still relatively unusual.

"If you are selling your property, it's still got to be priced appropriately for the market.

'And if you're buying, you still have to be realistic about what you can afford.

"If your budget is $650,000 and you want central, then you may not be looking for a three-bedroom and a garden."

The Realestate.co.nz figures showed a lift in new property listings nationally of 10,365 - a 2.4 per cent jump from the same month last year.

Auckland had 3707 new listings in August - a 0.1 per cent increase on last year's figures.

The chief executive of Harcourts New Zealand, Hayden Duncan, said the tightness in stock in Auckland was not because properties were not being listed.

"They are coming to the market ... it's just that the consumption of those listings is significantly greater than last year, and is outbalancing that.

"This is putting significant pricing pressure on those inner-city suburbs that are less than 10 to 15 minutes' drive in peak-hour traffic out of the CBD."

Realestate.co.nz figures showed seven regions across New Zealand saw a monthly fall in average asking price.

Canterbury's average fell 4.8 per cent to $374,732, Wellington dropped 1.8 per cent to $434,493, the Central North Island fell 6.1 per cent to $325,982, and Taranaki fell 6.7 per cent to $280,560.

The Waikato region recorded a 1.8 per cent rise in average asking price to $355,707.

But Mr McKenzie said that despite some of those monthly declines, overall the country's property market was still performing well.

"While Christchurch did have a slight fall last month, it's definitely been strong up until now.

"And most of the country is still in that degree of being in a seller's market still."

- NZ Herald

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