House sales by Auckland's largest agency Barfoot & Thompson dropped 34 per cent from August to September as the pandemic's highest-level alert took its toll.
The agency has sold more than 1000 properties each month since January but last month, volumes dropped to 666 sales. That is down on July's 1243 and August's 1020.
Peter Thompson, the agency's managing director, said today: "The Auckland property market was severely curbed by September's lockdown."
New listings declined from the year's high in February when the agency listed 1941 properties to 977 new listings last month.
The data has been issued the day before the Reserve Bank is expected to move the official cash rate. An announcement is due tomorrow at 2pm.
If it happens, that will be the first time since 2014 and New Zealand would be the first country in the Asia Pacific region to lift rates from their emergency post-Covid lows.
The Herald has reported how a 25 basis point OCR hike, from a record low of 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent, is currently fully priced in by markets and forecast by nearly every economist in the country. For many New Zealanders, hiking now while there is still uncertainty about the path of the Delta outbreak, may be jarring.
Thompson said online technology allowed agents a limited ability to operate so they had coped more effectively than during last year's Covid lockdown.
The restrictions and restraints on open homes and viewings had a major impact on sales volumes and trading patterns, and these, in turn, resulted in both the median and average sales prices edging lower, he said.
"The average sales price for the month at $1,132,552 fell back by 4.2 per cent on August's price and the median price at $1,100,000 fell 2.7 per cent. These average and median price declines had more to do with apartment sales and the price categories in which sales occurred than buyer resistance to market prices."
In September, 23.1 per cent of all the homes and apartments sold were settled for under $750,000 compared to only 18.9 per cent in July – the last month of trading not affected by the latest Covid lockdown restrictions.
"This anomaly, combined with the artificially low number of sales in the month, had a marked influence on the average and median prices for September," he said.
The average sales price in September was 13.6 per cent higher than that for September last year and the median price was 18.3 per cent higher.
"Sales for the month at 666 were down a third on those for last month. Given all of September's trading was conducted in lockdown, sales of 666 in the month was an outstanding result," he said.
New listings in September at 977 were also impressive, especially when seen against the challenges vendors faced on putting the final touches to their pre-listing activity, Thompson said.
"While new listings during the month were down nearly a quarter on those for August, it is four times the number of new listings when we went into lockdown in April last year.
"The public is now far more accepting of the use of online technology and services such as virtual viewing, and this is helping the market to continue to operate in an environment where lockdowns are likely to be common for some time yet."
The lockdown was having a major impact on the livelihoods of those involved in the real estate profession, including those that provide support services such as photography, video, staging, valuations and building reports.
"At month end, the agency had 2727 properties for sale, an extremely low number given that we are at the start of spring and the summer high season is ahead of us," Thompson said.
"Feedback from branches is that there is strong inquiry among vendors and buyers and that the moment we move to level 2 lockdown there will be a strong surge in listings and sales."
Ross Wilson, Auckland Council's economic analyst, yesterday released data showing the city's median sale price in August by all agents was $1,200,000. That is 22 per cent higher than a year prior, even after removing inflation effects. The total number of houses sold in Auckland was 35,431, among the highest in nearly 17 years.
The average real weekly rent for July was $605, up 6 per cent since July 2016. In the rest of New Zealand, the figure was $479 and 21 per cent higher than July 2016.
The total number of new dwellings consented in Auckland in the year ended August was
19,929, the highest since before 1993. The previous peak was 12,987 in the year ended June 2004. The real value of new non-residential buildings consented $1.9b, Wilson's data showed.
• The Reserve Bank will release its Monetary Policy Review in a statement at 2pm on Wednesday.