New property listings slumped across New Zealand in December, with sales volumes also low despite a high level of total housing stock. Slower market conditions have yet to reverse prices, however, with the average national asking price reaching an all-time high and median prices also holding up across much of the country. According to many analysts, the lack of urgency has made Auckland a "buyers' market" for the first time since 2011, a situation that could spread around the country if conditions stay cool over summer.
New listings were down in 13 of the 19 regions across New Zealand, having decreased by 6.2 percent in December compared to the year before - 7133 homes compared to 7606. Just 1908 new homes were listed in Auckland, down 7.8 percent from 2070 the previous year. The biggest falls were in other regions, however, with the Wairarapa region down a massive 32.9 percent to 98 and Hawke’s Bay down 21.7 percent with only 220 new properties. According to Vanessa Taylor from realestate.co.nz, “Central Otago / Lakes region also showed a significant drop, with new house listings down 26.6 per cent to 212 properties. This would appear to have had some effect on the region’s climbing asking prices."
Barfoot & Thompson sold just 674 properties in Auckland during December, the lowest level in seven years. The Auckland sales agency also managed to sign up just 571 new listings over the month, the lowest level since data became available in 2001. Despite the monthly drop in new listings recorded by Barfoot & Thompson, total national housing stock continues to build, with 9.3 percent growth recorded for the year according to figures from realestate.co.nz. Auckland’s overall housing stock also continued to rise on an annual basis, increasing by 26.1 percent to 8,497. Big increases were also recorded by Wellington - up 21 percent to 971, and Canterbury - up 18.6 percent to 3,642.
Cooler conditions on the ground are yet to affect property prices, with the national asking price managing to hit $660,798 in December, up 3.8 percent from November. According to figures from Barfoot & Thompson, the average selling price for Auckland during December was $939,871, 2.9 percent higher than a year ago and 2.9 percent above the November average. The median Auckland selling price in December was $870,000, 3.6 percent above the same month a year ago and 4.8 percent higher than November 2017.
Interestingly, the Central Otago/Lakes region moved ahead of Auckland with an average asking price of $984,719. Areas which experienced the biggest asking price increases included Nelson & Bays with 11.3 percent growth to $618,712, Marlborough with 10.0 percent growth to $479,288, West Coast with 8.7 percent growth to $265,396, Southland with 6.3 percent growth to $309,174, and Wairarapa with 5.4 percent growth to $429,488. Areas which saw the biggest asking price drops included Central North Island - down 7.4 percent to $403,648, and Gisborne - down 4.7 percent to $287,928.
According to Vanessa Taylor, “This is the first time we have seen Auckland shift to a buyers’ market since February 2011. The average asking price is still increasing despite high levels of stock. Auckland saw new property valuations last year which may be leading vendors to expect more than the market wants to pay... December is always a low month on the housing charts, so it will be interesting to see if these trends continue throughout 2018.”
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