Region's house sales end on high note

Northland's real estate market ended the year very strongly with almost 2000 properties sold.

Buyers snapped up 1960 Northland properties in 2012, setting an annual median sale price of $276,750.

Twenty-one property sales tipped the $1 million mark last year.

Northland Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) spokesman Graeme Lester said 2012 had been "a year of consolidation".

"We've noticed first home buyers back in the market during the year which we've been missing for a while," Mr Lester said.

"Prices have probably not progressed a lot but that could also be due to the fact that with a lot of first home buyers in the market, they're obviously not looking at the $500,000 and $600,000 houses, in most cases so that's probably kept the pricing averages down."

REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said Northland finished 2012 "very very strongly" with a large increase in sales for last December (155) compared to the same time a year prior (113).

"The days to sell is traditionally quite high in Northland and we did expect that trend to continue," Ms O'Sullivan said.

The days to sell figure was higher than other regions due to the mixture of properties sold in Northland.

"You've got the urban areas of places like Whangarei, but you've also got the rural and what you might call holiday home type markets as well," she said.

"Traditionally, the non-urban days to sell is longer."

The quietest month last year, determined by the number of properties sold, was in January, which was also the month with Northland's highest median sale price.

January was traditionally one of the quieter months in real estate as realtors had half a month's trading due to the holiday season, Ms O'Sullivan said.

November was the Northland market's busiest month but prices dipped in October, which recorded the lowest median price.

Mr Lester said 2013 had begun with more confidence than than the region had seen in several years.

"I don't see any big booms coming anytime soon, I think everybody's over that," he said.

Realistically, well-priced properties would continue to sell quickly.

The national real estate market closed last year with a new median house price record of $389,000, up 9.6 per cent on December 2011.

A total of 74,000 houses sold during 2012, a 21 per cent increase on the previous year and the highest annual total since 2007.

Ms O'Sullivan said Auckland and Christchurch notched up strong growth and the real estate market posted big gains nationwide last year, particularly with the number of sales by auction.

"That's probably reflective of broader trends in the property market," she said.

The total number of auctions reached 11,950 last year, or 16.1 per cent of all sales, compared to 7101 auctions or 11.6 per cent of all sales during 2011.

Ms O'Sullivan said she expected to see "more of the same" this year, with the median sale price continuing to tick up steadily in most regions.

"I do expect to see volumes continue to increase."

- Northern Advocate

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