Auckland house sales by the city's largest agency more than halved in May compared to the same month last year.

Barfoot & Thompson released house sales data for May, a month when New Zealand was mainly at alert level 3.

Peter Thompson, managing director, said only 396 homes were sold last month, compared to 821 in May, 2019.

"However, the sales numbers do not show the full picture as they are for unconditional and commission-paid sales only, The pipeline of conditional and non-commission paid sales from May is strong, and these sales will show up in June's results," he predicted.

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The average price at $947,707 was down 1.6 per cent on April and 2 per cent higher than for the same month last year. The median price of $914,000 was up 1.6 per cent on last month and up 7.5 per cent on that in May last year.

How did the lockdowns affect Auckland house sales? Photo / Chris Loufte
How did the lockdowns affect Auckland house sales? Photo / Chris Loufte

"Sales of $750,000-plus properties accounted for two-thirds of all sales in the month.

Dominick Stephens, Westpac chief economist, is forecasting a 7 per cent national house price decline from March till the end of the year, based on past recessions: in the early-1990s, prices fell 2.9 per cent, 4.6 per cent in 1998 and 10.5 per cent in 2008.

"We are bracing for something in a similar range this time. That said, the economy will come out of the Covid-19 recession with extremely low interest rates and no LVR mortgage lending restrictions. We expect house prices to remain very subdued in 2021, but to rise 11 per cent during 2022 in response to those low interest rates. That would be an earlier recovery than after previous recessions, but the pace of increase would be similar to that experienced after past recessions," Stephens said.