House sale volumes fell 26.5 per cent last month as the national alert level 4 lockdown took its toll.
Real Estate Institute showed only 5753 properties sold in August, down on last August's 7828.
That was the least number of properties sold in August since 2014.
Agents, vendors and buyers had 14 lockdown days last month, with activity severely restricted under alert level 4 which began just before midnight on Tuesday, August 17.
Auckland sales suffered a 12.8 per cent drop from 2689 sales last August to 2346 sales last month.
For New Zealand excluding Auckland, the number of properties sold in August fell 33.7 per cent, from 5139 to 3407.
The national median price rose only 3 per cent from $825,000 in July to $850,000 last month. Auckland prices across the city rose 3 per cent from $1.1m in July to $1.2m in August, although the more detailed data revealed falls in all the suburban areas.
In Auckland, no open homes can be held, no auctions staged at properties, no appraisals done in person at a home considered for listing, no listings secured on-site and real estate agency offices are shut.
No one can move house, rent inspections can only be done online and all residential construction is halted on thousands of sites across the city. People must stay in their bubbles.
That has raised alarm, particularly amongst residential building bosses who fear the effects on some people paying two mortgages: one for the house they live in now and a second for a new house.
Northland's median price fell 7.8 per cent from July to August.
Jen Baird, REINZ chief executive, said today: "The alert level 4 lockdown had an impact on the number of properties sold across New Zealand. While this is largely down to the restrictions that were put in place from a lockdown perspective, New Zealand continues to have record low levels of inventory, meaning fewer properties available to buy."
Spring is usually when people start to prepare to buy and sell, she noted.
The total number of properties available for sale nationally fell 31.9 per cent in August to 12,249, down from 17,974 last August.
That is a 3.4 per cent decrease from July and the lowest level of inventory seen in New Zealand, REINZ said.
"Auction rooms may have gone quiet when alert level 4 came into effect, but the latest data indicates that this just meant a shift to the digital space," REINZ said.
Last month, 26 per cent of all properties nationally were sold by auction.
"This was the highest percentage of New Zealand homes sold by auction for an August month since records began," REINZ said today.
Kiwibank senior economist Jeremy Couchman said the lockdown had thrown up some surprising results in the housing data because although volumes fell, prices rose.
"The outlook for housing remains unchanged. Rising mortgage rates, further lending restrictions, affordability constraints, and a boom in new housing supply should all work to cool the market over the year ahead," Couchman said today.
Auckland fared better than any other region in August.
"Tāmaki Makaurau managed to avoid a double-digit fall in sales during the month, only -9.3 per cent. And annual house price growth of 27.9 per cent was the fastest pace of growth in almost six years," he said.
ASB economist Mike Jones said: "The property market largely took August's shift up in alert levels in its stride. House sales predictably slumped given the country spent the final two weeks of the month at alert level 4. But the fact sales fell only 17 per cent despite just under half of the month in full lockdown is testament to the strength of demand, as well as the increased ability of the industry to shift online."
On September 3, Barfoot & Thompson said its sales were a third down last month because of the city's lockdown.
"Based on weekly sales data, sales numbers are two-thirds of what they might otherwise have been had the lockdown not occurred," the agency's managing director Peter Thompson said then.
Average prices dropped, from July's $1.183 million to August's $1.181m.
REINZ said today Auckland underpinned median price strength nationally, hitting a record last month of $1.2m, up 26.4 per cent from $949,500 last August.
"This growth was reflected throughout the region with five out of seven districts reaching new record median prices: Rodney District ($1,280,000), Manukau City ($1,157,000), Waitakere City ($1,120,000), Franklin District ($950,000) and Papakura District ($940,000)," REINZ said today.
Waikato had a 23.8 per cent price increase from $630,000 in August 2020 to a new record of $780,000.
Hamilton City ($840,000), Hauraki District ($620,000), Matamata-Piako District ($755,000) and Taupo district ($790,000) all reached record median highs.
Manawatu/Wanganui had a 35.3 per cent increase from $451,000 in August 2020 to a new record of $610,000 in August.
Horowhenua District ($625,000), Palmerston North city ($720,000), Ruapehu District ($446,000), Tararua District ($476,000) and Whanganui District ($560,000) all reached record median prices.
Canterbury had a 24.3 per cent price increase from $498,000 in August 2020 to a new record of $619,000 last month.
Christchurch City ($650,000), Kaikoura District ($675,000) and Waimakariri District ($645,000) all reached record median prices, REINZ said today.