The housing market's usual spring uplift has been subdued this year, with prices only rising 2 per cent annually but down by more than 8 per cent in Auckland.
Real Estate Institute data today said the national median rose from $795,000 last September to $811,000 last month but Auckland's fell 8.3 per cent from last September's $1.1m to last month's $1.04m.
At 47 days, it now takes 10 days longer to sell a New Zealand house now than it did a year ago.
The housing market value measured by the REINZ House Price Index dropped 8.1 per cent annually and is down 12.6 per cent from its peak in November.
"The usual spring lift appears subdued in September," said REINZ chief executive Jen Baird.
Nationally, house sale volumes fell more than 10 per cent from last September's 5548 sales to 4943 last month.
Prices fell in six of seven Auckland areas: the North Shore was down 28.6 per cent, Papakura 16.9 per cent, Auckland city 9.7 per cent, Waitakere 9.2 per cent, Manukau 4.1 per cent and Rodney 3.6 per cent. The only Auckland area where prices rose was Franklin, up 2.7 per cent.
Commentary on Auckland said: "The trend in median price has started dropping as recent declines overcome prior gains. The sales count trend has been declining over the past year. The median days-to-sell trend has been easing over the past year. The House Price Index for Auckland had the worst performance over the past three months and the second-worst performance of all regions over the past 12 months."
Bay of Plenty median prices fell 3 per cent annually to $849,000, Waikato prices were down 0.6 per cent to $770,000, Taranaki prices rose 17.8 per cent to $630,000. Canterbury's rose 2.8 per cent to $590,000 while Otago's fell 3.3 per cent to $665,000.
Baird said nationally, prices had experienced an exceptional period of growth last year, spurred by Government stimulus and closed borders seeing Kiwis invest locally.
But now, the property market was moderating.
Landlords have virtually vanished: "Investors remain largely absent. New tax legislation and rising interest rates have created concern amongst this buyer pool, seeing them step back," Baird said.
"Owner-occupiers remain a strong buyer pool and agents in some areas report seeing more first home buyers in the market, enticed by easing prices and less competition. However, property prices are still unaffordable to many, particularly in larger hubs, such as Auckland and Wellington," she said.
On the Reinz House Price Index, Wellington suffered the biggest fall, down 19.8 per cent since that peak, followed by Auckland down 17.3 per cent, Manawatu Whanganui down 12.1 per cent, Gisborne/Hawkes Bay down 11.1 per cent and the Bay of plenty down 10 per cent.
"We are operating in a different market to the one we saw last year, which was fuelled by a sense of urgency as demand outweighed supply," Baird said.
The market had moved the other way so that supply outweighs demand.
"In this market, while we are still seeing a good rate of sales, they tend to be slower. This is evident in the dip in sales counts compared to the same period last year, down 10.9 per cent nationally, as well as the volume of available stock and the time properties are staying on the market," Baird said.
Agents report most vendors understand the need to adjust their price expectations although some are slow to meet buyer expectations, she said.
Warmer weather usually brings out buyers.
"Agents also report seeing an increase in open home and auction attendance, which we would expect to see as we move into the warmer months. However, the September data, and reports from agents, indicate that the expected spring uplift is not as strong as anticipated," Baird said today.
Last week, the Herald reported house values suffered one of the sharpest drops in the past three months, and that's predicted to continue, with interest rates forecast to rise again today.
Nick Goodall, CoreLogic NZ's head of research, said: "The quarterly fall of 4.1 per cent from July to the end of September ranks as one of the worst periods for national value falls on record, only marginally better than the three months to the end of August 2008 of -4.4 per cent in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis."
Things won't change soon either, he predicts, referring to the Reserve Bank's announcement due today.
"It's probably too early to suggest the housing market has moved through the worst of the downturn. With the OCR expected to increase a further 50 basis points to 3.5 per cent later today, that downwards pressure on house prices is likely to continue."
Barfoot & Thompson said last week that the price of homes it sold dropped by $47,000 from August to September but by $180,000 since last November.
The city's median residential sale price fell from $1.1m in August to $1.06m last month.
"That was the lowest it has been in any month for 16 months," said managing director Peter Thompson. The peak was last November when the agency's median sale price hit an all-time of $1.24m.