After years in which first home buyers have been forced to tremble through nerve-shredding auctions, estate agents are finally returning to the tried-and-true sale technique of posting asking prices on hoardings.
In November last year, Barfoot and Thompson had 1,044 houses listed at auction with 471 selling under the hammer. In February, 656 went to auction and 372 sold under the hammer.
Managing director Peter Thompson said he preferred auctions, but he had noticed a small drop-off in the number listed.
There was certainly a levelling out in the market and it would continue as new builds from consents issued last year became available.
"In previous years, we had only 3,000 to 5,000 consents.
"Last year there were 11,000 building consents approved so more stock will be on the market this year. What was a sellers' market will slowly swing around to a neutral market."
Auckland real estate agent Anne Duncan said many buyers preferred to see a list price to get an idea of the "goalposts".
"I think last year buyers got tired of auctions, to be honest," she said.
Loan-to-value (LVR) lending restrictions also had an effect.
"Preferring a list price is especially true for first home buyers and the LVR.
"They don't want to be told they can buy a property for $500,000 and see it sell for over $600,000."
Last year, the success rate for auctions from Duncan's Mt Albert agency was 94 per cent.
"The other night we had six auctions and we only sold three, so 50 per cent - but they were bloody good auctions."
Duncan said character homes in the area were still selling well at auction because they were in high demand.
Other houses which would previously go at auction hadn't - but they had success with a list price.
Ponsonby sale — but not under the hammer
Josh Borthwick and Ush de la Croix's classic 1920s villa on Sackville St in popular Ponsonby was always going to sell - just not under the hammer.
The couple were shocked to have no bids on their family home last month. "Our expectation going into it was it was going to go super well," Borthwick said.
Agent Antonia Baker from The Property Market felt the January auction was too early in the year so she and the couple came up with a list price, based on what other similar properties had sold for and the property went unconditional on Friday night.