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Prices down, sales up and a new all-time median high for Auckland


The housing market saw a lift in volumes over April with a seasonally adjusted 3% rise in sales compared to March, according to the latest Real Estate Institute (REINZ) report.

Across New Zealand in April 4,987 unconditional sales were reported and the national median house price stood at $360,000, down by $5,000 from March but up $4,000 on April 2010.

"The April results reflect a steady market across New Zealand with signs of a lift in prices in the South Island, and Auckland prices still solid with limited supply," said REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan.

"Volumes across the country were stronger than we expected on a seasonally adjusted basis, with only Manawatu/Whanganui and Wellington showing negative volumes movements. The results reflect some cautious optimism with no great outbreak of smiles but certainly fewer frowns."

Auckland recorded a new all time median house price in April of $479,500.

"Auckland continues to lead the overall market in terms of price, with prices rising 2% compared to March and up 2% compared to April 2010," O'Sullivan said.

"The Auckland region's days to sell also dropped in April, down to 34 days, with the region continuing to lead the national statistics in terms of days to sell, reflecting the continued tightening of conditions in the Auckland market."

Prices in South Island also showed signs of strength compared to the previous month, with Otago seeing a 9.3% rise, Central Otago Lakes up 8.2% and Canterbury/Westland up 6.9%.

On a seasonally adjusted basis Central Otago Lakes and Otago recorded the strongest lifts in volumes in April compared to March, although the 72% lift in Canterbury/Westland's volumes reflected both the extraordinarily low March and an easing of previous difficulties in obtaining insurance in this market.

The national median days to sell eased from 41 days in March to 43 days in April, compared to 40 days in April 2010.

Auckland had the shortest days to sell followed by Hawkes Bay at 41 days. Across the country all regions other than Wellington, Southland and Nelson/Marlborough recorded a decrease in days to sell. Northland remained the region with the longest number of days to sell at 73 days, however, this is a 21 day improvement on the March figure of 94 days.

Christchurch saw a recovery of volumes in April, with 315 sales in the city compared to 193 in March and 511 in April 2010. While still some way from previous activity levels, REINZ said the market is finding its way to a "new normal."

The median house price in Christchurch city rose by 5% on March and 1.5% above April 2010.

Across New Zealand as a whole, the total value of residential sales, including sections, rose to $2.21 billion in April, compared to $2.62 billion in March 2011 and $2.17 billion in April 2010.

The majority of the properties sold - 58% - were in the sub $400,000 bracket. Properties valued between $400,000 and $599,999 accounted for 25% of sales, the $600,000 to $999,999 bracket accounted for 12.8% of sales and the $1 million-plus 4.2%.

The REINZ Housing Price Index rose 1.1% in April compared with March 2011, with the stratified median house price at just under $365,600. The REINZ Housing Price Index recorded increases in Auckland, Wellington and Other South Island, but falls in Christchurch and Other North Island.

Compared to April 2010, the Housing Index fell 0.4% and is now 4% below the peak of November 2007.

Source: Landlords.co.nz