A slight rebound in the number of new home listings last month did little to alleviate pressure in the national property market, according to figures out today.
The latest NZ Property Report, released by Realestate.co.nz, shows there were 8849 new house listings in January, 4 per cent higher than both the previous month and January last year.
Low levels of listings were to be expected at this time of year but buyer demand had also never been higher, said marketing manager Paul McKenzie.
"In the last three months, we've seen around 30,000 new listings come onto the market, which is equivalent to the same period a year ago," he said.
"However, sales have been up 30 per cent during the same period, which has kept the market very tight."
Confidence from those selling houses saw the national average asking price soar to $440,507 on a seasonally adjusted basis.
"Auckland also saw its average asking price top $600,000 for the second time on record, while Canterbury's average asking price tipped the $400,000 mark for the third time in the past 12 months," McKenzie said.
ASB economist Jane Turner urged caution in interpreting the data because housing market activity was often disrupted over the Christmas and New Year break and due to a relatively small history of the data set.
The low levels of new house listings reflected low levels of construction, she said.
"The recent pick-up in building consents, particularly in Auckland, is an encouraging sign.
"We expect an increase in housing construction to help alleviate some of the pressures in the market, particularly in the areas where supply constraints are most acute such as Auckland and Christchurch."
But the supply shortage will continue to keep upward pressure on house prices, Turner said.
"We expect house prices will continue to lift over 2013, with gains continuing to be led by Auckland and Christchurch."
Turner said that although the steady rise in house prices would cause more discomfort for the Reserve Bank, she thought the OCR would remain unchanged until March 2014.
"However, we see a small but growing chance the Reserve Bank may use macro prudential tools in order to ease housing market and credit demand pressures."