Marlborough Property Investors' Association

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Auckland house sales up 53.2% on month - REINZ

Auckland recorded more than 50% more house sales in March than February, and 11.4% more than in March 2010, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) figures.

Over March the national housing market recorded a strong seasonal lift in volumes and a modest rise in the level of prices.

"The March results show real growth in volumes in the Auckland market," said REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan.

She cited a number of factors for the growth in the Auckland market, including the persistent shortage of housing stock, continued weak building consents resulting in increased rental pressure and low interest rates.

"Volume growth across the rest of the country, while impressive compared with February, is more in line with seasonal trends. We are also seeing that while volumes have strengthened, prices are only showing modest changes across the country. Buyers are increasingly seeing price stability, which is giving them confidence to enter the market."

Across New Zealand 5,848 unconditional sales were reported, a 29.9% increase over February, and an increase of 32.2% when Canterbury/Westland figures are excluded from both totals.

Volumes were 1.5% higher in March compared to the same month in 2010 when Canterbury/Westland figures are also excluded.

The national median price increased by $15,000 to $365,000 from February, and by $4,500 compared to March 2010.

Underscoring the volume growth, the national median days to sell (a measurement of the number of days from listing date to unconditional date) fell from 58 days in February to 41 days in March, compared with 35 days in March 2010.

The shortest days to sell was recorded in Auckland, at 35 days, with Southland next shortest at 36 days.

Across the country all regions other than Nelson/Marlborough recorded a decrease in days to sell.

Northland remained the region with the longest number of days to sell at 94 days, however this is a 17 day improvement over the February measure of 111 days. Days to sell in Canterbury/Westland also recorded an improvement on February and March 2011, falling from 57 to 50 days.

As expected volumes in Christchurch city have fallen dramatically in March 2011 compared to February 2011 and March 2010.

However, REINZ said it was "remarkable" that despite a number of conditions becoming essential to transactions, such as insurance, there were 193 unconditional sales in Christchurch in March. That compares to 244 in February and 595 in March 2010.

The REINZ Housing Price Index rose 0.5% in March compared with February 2011, with the stratified median house price at just above $361,500. The Index recorded increases in Auckland, Christchurch and ‘Other' North Island, but falls in Wellington and ‘Other' Southland.

Compared to March 2010, the Housing Price Index fell 1.8%, and is now 5.1% below the peak recorded in November 2007.