New Zealand house prices rose 5.8 per cent annually while Auckland prices were up only 1.8 per cent, the Real Estate Institute said this morning.

Bindi Norwell, REINZ chief executive, said the national median house price went from $520,000 in December 2016 to $550,000 last month. Auckland's median rose from $855,000 to $870,000 in the same period.

Thirteen out of 16 regions had price rises in the last year. Three areas where prices fell were Marlborough down 2.1 per cent, West Coast down 1.6 per cent and Canterbury down 0.7 per cent.

December sales volumes nationally fell 10.1 per cent to 5903. Auckland volumes fell 6.4 per cent to 1693. The median number of days to sell nationally increased by a day, from 31 to 32 days compared to December 2016.

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Auctions represented 14 per cent of all properties sold nationally in December, down from 18 per cent in December 2016. This represents 827 properties sold under the hammer, down from 1,154 properties in December 2016, REINZ said.

Of those 827 properties sold by auction, more than half were in Auckland and 13 per cent or 105 properties were in Canterbury.

Norwell said: "December represented a continuation of the theme we have seen throughout 2017, whereby the number of properties sold across New Zealand decreased every month when compared with the same month in 2016. It's a tough comparison, because 2015 and 2016 were very strong years for the industry, and set quite a high bar, so any comparison was always going to be more moderate."

All seven Auckland districts had a median price of more than $700,000 and Norwell said that was the first time that had occurred. That highlights how expensive the city is becoming, she said.

"Additionally, North Shore City has reached a record median price of $1,113,000 – the nearest the price has been to this point previously was $1,105,000 in November 2016," she said.

Quotable Value said national house values increased 6.6 per cent or $41,660 last year, from $627,905 in December 2016 to $669,565 last month.

Sales volumes were down on 2016 for every month during 2017. From February and October last year, they were more than 20 per cent below 2016 levels before picking up in November when a post-election late spring surge saw them jump to just 10 per cent lower than November 2016 levels, QV said.

QV national spokesperson Andrea Rush said: "A slow-down in the rate of value growth in the housing market that began in the latter part of 2016 with the introduction of LVR speed limits requiring a 40 per cent deposit by investors continued throughout 2017."

The three-year frenzy had been caused by high numbers of investors in the market but that had now subsided, she said. New Zealand is now experiencing more normal levels of activity.

"By October, nationwide annual value growth had slowed to 3.9 per cent, the lowest rate of growth seen in five years, and for the Auckland Region it slowed to -0.6 per cent, the slowest annual rate of growth seen there since March 2011," Rush said.

"High prices, constraints on finance caused by tightening in retail banks lending criteria and higher deposit requirements removed many buyers from the market and sales volumes plummeted," she said.

This week, Harcourts released data showing national auctions dropped 20.7 per cent from 246 a year ago to 195 last month. Yet national house prices rose 3 per cent in the last year. The average price of a residential property sold by his agency was $600,460 in December 2016 but $618,450 last month. Written sales fell 3 per cent from 1,716 to 1,659.

Barfoot & Thompson said earlier this month that Auckland's average selling price increased by 4.5 per cent annually to $926,632 and the median selling price by 2.7 percent to $843,583. But the number of Auckland houses sold last year dropped by a quarter compared to the previous three years.