New Zealand home sales climbed 16 per cent in August as the property market recovers from 2011's lows on the continued strength of the Auckland and Christchurch property markets.
The number of sales increased by 843 to 6,035 in August compared to the same month a year earlier and was up 2.2 per cent on July. The increase was led by an 18.4 per cent increase in the number of auctions to 588, a new record for the month.
The national medium house sale price gained 2.5 per cent to $370,000 compared to July and is up 4.2 per cent on August last year. Auckland's medium house price reached a new record rising 1.1 per cent to $505,500. The Canterbury region also reached a new record, with the median house price rising to $345,000 from $325,000 a year earlier.
"House buyers in Auckland are increasingly driving the New Zealand real estate market with a widening gap opening up between the dynamics of the Auckland market and the rest of the country," chief executive, Helen O'Sullivan said in a statement. "While both Auckland and Christchurch recorded new record median prices during the month it is the strong sales volume growth in Auckland that is most notable."
"Across the rest of the country while we are continuing to see rising sales volumes, prices continue to reflect the general caution around the economic outlook," she said. "In many parts of the country we are also seeing shortages of houses available for sale, often a market feature at the end of winter, although expectations for a rush of listings in the spring are not strong."
All regions recorded an increase in sales volumes compared to August last year. Northland led the way up 31 per cent, followed by Auckland on 25.6 per cent and Taranaki on 22.2 per cent.
Seven regions recorded an increase in sales last month compared to July, with Central Otago Lakes up 25 per cent, Southland increasing 11.2 per cent and Nelson/Marlborough up 8.9 per cent. Taranaki bucked the trend, falling 14 per cent, while Manawatu/Wanganui fell 8.2 per cent.
"This increased level of activity does need to be seen in context of an overall housing market that is still subdued and with prices yet to catch-up with increases in the consumer price index over the last five years," O'Sullivan said. "A sure sign that housing market was back to normal levels of activity would be turnover reaching the pre 2008 long run average. This has yet to happen."
Nelson/Marlborough recorded the highest lift in prices up 11.6 per cent to $330,000.
The number of days to sell a house fell to 35 from 38 in July. That's down four days on the same period a year earlier. Auckland recorded the shortest number of days to sell a house on 30, followed by Canterbury/Westland on 33 and Otago on 37.
The total value of residential sales across the country was $2.79 billion, compared to $2.62 billion in July and $2.18 billion in August 2011.