Five-year sales high good sign, say agents

A five-year high has a Rotorua real estate agent positive about the local market's future.

Harcourts Rotorua sales manager Hielke Oppers said last November was the biggest month for the Rotorua property market in the past five years.

"The last month that we sold big figures like that was November in 2007.

"We've seen a big increase in lower-priced properties that have sold in November."

Investors were re-entering the market, along with first-home buyers, he said.

"If investors are confident in the market that is often a good sign moving forward as well."

Data released in the NZ Property Report - a monthly report compiled by property listing website - showed the average Bay of Plenty asking price dipped slightly last month and new listings decreased by nearly 17 per cent year-on-year.

Mr Oppers said December was traditionally a quieter month, which explained the significant drop-off in activity. However, there were a lot more "serious buyers" in the market.

"There's definitely more confidence in the market, people know when they see a property come to the market that is good value and they sell quickly.

"Low-priced properties are being picked up fairly quickly and we've seen more multiple offers as well."

The median selling price in Rotorua in November was just $217,000, he said. However, a low number of house sales meant the figures could be easily skewed, Mr Oppers said.

"This [price] is very low compared to the months before that, but that [low figure] was just an increase in the number of lower-priced properties selling and very few higher ones. It can fluctuate a little bit."

Mr Oppers said he expected to see an increase in market activity and asking prices in the coming months.

Nationally the property market began the New Year with an ease in asking prices but registered the lowest number of properties for sale on record, with new listings dropping over the traditionally quiet month of December.

Inventory - the number of weeks it would theoretically take to sell all unsold housing stock on the market - fell to just 26.6 weeks nationally, down from the long-term average of 39 weeks. marketing manager Paul McKenzie said the ongoing demand for homes in Auckland drove the fall, with the nation's biggest property market registering a record low of 13.9 weeks of housing stock for sale.

"New listings are usually down at this far end of the year, but the 8482 brought to market in December represents a 37 per cent drop from [November] and a 3 per cent drop from the same time last year.

"For this to happen at a time when demand is so high, is significant. Compared to the peak of the market in 2007, new listings are down 26 per cent," Mr McKenzie said.

While such a tight inventory continued to lean the market firmly in sellers' favour, the ease in asking prices to a level just 1 per cent above those of a year ago - to a seasonally adjusted $422,636 - should be some welcome news for buyers, he said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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