Property prices in Rotorua last month were far higher than the same time last year, but there were fewer houses sold.

New figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand showed the usual upward swing in sales volumes in spring did not happen this year, with many blaming the uncertainty surrounding the election.

Just 77 houses were sold in the Rotorua district last month - there were 117 in September last year and 105 in August.

"Everybody puts everything on hold coming up to an election," Ann Crossley, Rotorua REINZ ambassador and First National Rotorua principal said. "The reality is for most people nothing will change."


LJ Hooker Rotorua principal Malcolm Forsyth said the low sales volumes were not surprising.

"I've seen this happen in past election cycles. People do tend to sit back and wait."

A lack of choice for buyers due to fewer listings was also a problem, according to Realty Group chief executive Simon Anderson.

"It's probably not that unexpected given the listings that have been coming through.

"People don't want to sell because there's nothing to go and buy so then there's nothing to sell. It's like this Mexican stand-off."

Professionals McDowell principal Steve Lovegrove said listings had risen in recent weeks.

"Stock is expanding again, choices for buyers are starting to expand."

Sales would rise between now and the end of the year, he said.

"We're confident we'll see a nice little flurry between now and Christmas."

Mr Forsyth and Mr Anderson both said the recent wet weather was also a factor.

Mr Forsyth said although potential buyers were looking at houses, they were not making the decision to buy, although this was likely to change.

"I certainly do believe the rest of the year will be better. We've noticed some more listings coming on to the market."

Anita Martelli, co-owner of Ray White Rotorua, said her agency was doing more appraisals so she was confident the number of listings would soon grow.

"If there was more stock there would be more sales."

The median sale price in Rotorua in September was $335,000. This was down on August's high of $350,000, but higher than the median of $300,000 in September last year.

Mr Anderson said the numbers had been affected by the disproportionate number of properties selling at the higher end of the market.

"Probably what we've seen though is quite a number of sales in Rotorua at the top end of the market."

The bottom end of the property market was affected more by the change in loan-to-value ratios, he said. He described overall property prices as steady, however.

Mr Lovegrove said sellers were often expecting more for their properties than they were worth, particularly with new capital valuations.

"My advice to sellers is don't be too enthusiastic about prices. Vendors may also have to listen closely to their real estate salesperson as to prices."

Nationally, sales volumes dropped 26.2 per cent - less than Rotorua's 34.2 per cent.

The median property price for New Zealand fell slightly from August to September, but were still up year on year by 1.2 per cent.

Canterbury and the West Coast were the only regions where prices fell from last September, but Auckland's median price was exactly the same after several months of falls.

Property values in Rotorua could not continue to grow with falling prices in other New Zealand cities, Mr Lovegrove warned. "How much longer can Rotorua keep going up while other places go down?"

Uncertainty in market not a factor for one seller

One Rotorua woman says election-related jitters in the property market just weren't a factor in her decision to sell her home.

"I don't think the elections had anything to do with my decision," Lu Tyree said.

Her current house in Glenholme was bigger than necessary, she said, and she was looking to downsize.

"I actually want to do more personal stuff than just paying the mortgage and doing the garden."

Travel was next on the list for Ms Tyree, who described herself as a "single professional girl".

A smaller home to maintain and pay for would help her to do just that, although she was slightly hampered by the current shortage of local listings in finding a new place.

But although the choice of homes for sale in Rotorua was limited, she said, she had found one that would suit her.

"I saw a place that I felt would satisfy my needs," she told the Rotorua Daily Post.
"I do keep an eye out all the time."

Selling Ms Tyree's current property could be a fairly quick process - the average time on the market dropped in September to 37 days in the Bay of Plenty.