Real estate bosses are buoyant about the year ahead after Auckland house prices bounced back to life and Ray White reported a record number of sales in the last quarter.

Exclusive Westmere in the inner west led the turnaround with an 8.3 per cent jump to a $1.8 million median sale price in the final three months of 2019, the March One Roof Property Report found.

Ponsonby, up 5.6 per cent to $1.7m, and Grey Lynn up 4.3 per cent to $1.5m were the next best performers.

Yet the jump in sale prices was also widespread as every Auckland region - apart from Rodney - returned to growth.

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It's led agents to report queues of interested buyers flocking to open homes, auctioneers to see more bidders and some homes with development potential selling for prices way above their council valuation.

Bayleys managing director Mike Bayley told the One Roof Property Report the market had really heated up.

Ray White NZ chief executive Carey Smith called 2019 a year of two halves as the early year slump gave way to a record final three months.

"Ray White achieved the highest number of sales ever for a quarter during the final three months of 2019," he said.

one roof
The city's real estate bosses are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of continued house price growth in Auckland. Photo / 123rf
The city's real estate bosses are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of continued house price growth in Auckland. Photo / 123rf

It was a red hot bounce back that caught many pundits by surprise.

Auckland had earlier endured an 18-month slump in prices and an extremely quiet winter.

That slump led the total value of annual house sales to last year drop 20 per cent to $50 billion as the number of sales fell 22 per cent year-on-year to 75,598, according to OneRoof and its data partner Valocity.

But while the volume of house sales dropped, Auckland house prices didn't fall greatly.

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That meant January's dramatic rebound drove prices back up to near record levels, while sales volumes were the highest for the month of January since 2016, Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson said.

"Auckland's property market has entered a new growth cycle, which has every chance of continuing until we get close to the September general election," he said.

Historically low interest rates, continued immigration and a shortage of houses listed as for sale should keep demand and prices high, the agency bosses tipped.

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OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan says: "Twelve months ago the real estate industry was worried about capital gains tax and whether turmoil in Sydney and Melbourne would spread across Tasman and bring down New Zealand house prices. The market was split: Auckland was still stuck in doldrums, while lower-priced regional markets were enjoying double-digit value growth.

"Fast-forward to March 2020 and capital gains tax is a non-issue, having been taken off the table after near-universal opposition, and very few remember talk of a market crash. And in a reversal of fortunes, Auckland has sprung back to life while affordability constraints have started to slow growth in the regions.

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"The bounce-back in Auckland will give cheer to homeowners after three years of no growth. Anecdotal evidence from open homes and auction rooms show a real demand for properties from first home buyers and investors."

Suburbs where the good times had not yet returned included Kumeu where prices were down 3.2 per cent in 2019's last quarter to $1.1m, Waterview down 2.3 per cent to $840,000 and Stanmore Bay down 2 per cent to $745,000.

First-home buyers remained the most dominant buyer group, taking out 28 per cent of all new home loans, the OneRoof report found.

Auckland now had 114 suburbs with a median sale price higher than $1m. Coatesville was the highest priced suburb with a typical $2.6m sale value, up 7 per cent over the last three months.

By contrast there were just two suburbs with median values below $500,000. They included the apartment-filled central city with a median sale price of $460,000 and Grafton where sale prices had grown 1 per cent to $485,000.

Hot spots
Biggest median price jumps in last three months of 2019:
8.3% Westmere — climbing to $1.8m
5.6% Ponsonby — rising to $1.7m
4.3% Grey Lynn — up to $1.5m

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