Barfoot and Thompson, Auckland's largest residential realtor with 40 per cent of the market, reported its strongest January month in four years and said it expected gradual and modest increases in house prices over the first quarter of 2012.

"The average sales price [in January 2012] at $529,768 was up 2.7 per cent [from January 2011], sales numbers at 683 were up 21.3 per cent and new listings at 1031 were up 15.1 per cent," managing director Peter Thompson said.

The average sales price was down by $43,303 from December Thompson said the month was "an extremely positive start to the year".

"In January we sold more properties in the month than we have since 2007, prices reached their highest average ever for the month, new listings were up 15.1 per cent and we sold double the number of million dollar homes than we did last January," Thompson said.

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"The seasonal dip in activity that occurs each year as a result of the Christmas, New Year and annual holiday breaks was present in the trading figures, but on every key measure this January was significantly ahead of that for January last year," he said.
Million dollar sales

Barfoots sold 40 homes in excess of $1 million during the month. Thompson said homes at the top end of the market tend to be quieter than in other months with many buyers and sellers being away on holiday.

"We have not sold that many homes in that price category in a January since the peak year of 2007," he said.

"Homes valued at a million dollars and above are subject to different market drivers than the rest of the market, and we anticipate demand for high end homes to remain strong."

At the end of January Barfoots had 4766 properties listed, Thompson said.

"While 4 per cent higher than the number at the end of December, it was the lowest number we have had at this time of the year for four years. Limited choice has been a feature of the market now for the past 7 months," he said.

The outlook for housing in the first quarter of 2012 was for a continuation of the trading pattern for the last half of 2011, which saw gradual and modest increases in prices with the number of homes sold monthly remaining in a band of between 700 and 900 properties, Thompson said.

"From now until late autumn new listings and sales numbers will build before starting to ease with the approach of winter. Buyers and sellers are taking a measured approach and it will result in the market remaining stable and positive," he said.

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