Key Points:

The national median price for property eased in January to $327,000 from $330,000 the month before, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) says.

The fall came as the median dropped in the largest market, Auckland, and the fourth largest market, Wellington, while being unchanged in the third largest, Canterbury/Westland.

And while the median fell, the 7566 sales last month were well up on the 6360 in January in 2006. The days to sell median was 38, the same as January last year.

In Auckland the median price fell to $415,000 in January, from $422,500 in December. In Wellington it dropped to $351,868 from $365,000, and in Canterbury/Westland stayed the same at $290,000.

In the second largest market, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, the median increased to $307,875 from $300,000.

National growth for the year was 9 per cent, from $300,000 to $327,000, with the fastest growing region being Southland, which rose 25.6 per cent from $124,250 in January 2006 to $156,000 this January.

Next fastest growing region was Manawatu/Wanganui up 19.4 per cent from $180,000 to $215,000, while Taranaki was third with a rise of 18.5 per cent from $230,000 to $272,500.

REINZ national president Murray Cleland said the trend was a continuation of that seen in 2006.

The growth rate in house prices for major metropolitan areas was slowing after growing dramatically between 2003 and 2005, while the smaller provinces and their cities caught up.

January tended to be a fragmented month and it was not uncommon to see the median price dip a little, Mr Cleland said.

Median price changes in other regions from December to January were:

*Northland, from $290,500 in December to $305,000 in January
*Hawke's Bay, $255,000 to $280,000
*Manawatu/Wanganui unchanged at $215,000
*Taranaki, $270,000 to $272,500
*Nelson/Marlborough, $320,000 to $307,000
*Central Otago Lakes, $422,500 to $432,200
*Otago, $229,000 to $221,750
*Southland, $150,000 to $156,000.