There are now fewer residential properties for sale nationwide than at any time since 2006, as demand pushes up prices.

New data released by Realestate.co.nz showed there were only 30,988 properties for sale across New Zealand, which is the lowest number since 2006, despite a rise in new listings.

"Historically, the number of homes for sale tends to be fairly stable, following gradual, long-term trends," said Brendon Skipper, Realestate.co.nz CEO.

"Given that the number of homes for sale when we started keeping records in January 2007 was nearly 43,000, we can safely assume that this is the fewest homes on the market in New Zealand for a much longer time, possibly a decade."

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While the number of houses for sale reached a high point of 58,137 in April 2008 - and remained consistently near 50,000 for another three years - it has since started a slow decline to the present level.

"We use a metric we call inventory, a measure of supply and demand that indicates how long it would take, in theory, for all the current properties on the market to be sold at the average rate of sales," he said.

"In September, inventory nationally dropped to its lowest level since we've started keeping records."

The data found there was only 16.3 weeks of inventory, compared to the long-term average of 35 weeks. Our biggest cities were particularly affected by this trend.

"In our main centres, the situation is even more extreme. In Auckland, the inventory is only 9.6 weeks and in Wellington 11.1 weeks," he said.

Current inventory levels across all regions of New Zealand were also below their respective long-term regional averages.

While there were more new listings overall, these properties did not stay on the market for long, hence the low inventory levels.

"The simple truth is that these properties are now spending less time in the market, suggesting that market pressures will remain high while the current rate of turnover continues."

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Low inventory was usually associated with a sellers' market and higher asking prices, Mr Skipper said.

Further data revealed that while the average asking price in many regions had dropped since August, long term trends show a strong increase in asking price - with six regions in the country achieving their highest average asking price in September.

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