REINZ April 2012 regional review

Thursday 10 May 2012

Auckland sees sales slip from March but remain well above year-earlier levels, Government belt tightening continues to hamper the Wellington market and Hawkes Bay records the strongest sales rise and a new median price high.

Auckland

Sales volumes in the Auckland region were up 16.3% over April 2011. Compared to April 2011 sales volume growth was strongest in Rodney and Outer Auckland, with Auckland City showing the slowest growth. Volumes were down by 24% compared to March, in line with the national trend, with the drop off in sales evenly spread across the region.

The median price eased across the region by $5,200 (-1.1%) compared to March, but up $10,500 (+2.2%) compared to April 2011. Compared to April 2011 North Shore and Waitakere City showed the strongest price growth, with only Manukau City recording a slight fall in the median price (-$1000).

Auckland's days to sell eased by two days, from 31 days in March to 33 days in April. Compared to April 2011 the days to sell improved by one day. Auckland had the second shortest days to sell for all regions of New Zealand for April, bettered only by Canterbury/Westland.

REINZ Chief Executive Helen O'Sullivan commented that, "The Auckland market has eased back from its traditional March peak with a drop of almost a quarter in sales volume. There are some indications that buyers are becoming more firm on their price expectations given the strong run in prices over the past 12 months."

Trends in the Auckland region show some easing of volumes and days to sell as autumn commences. The trend in prices remains largely upward, although there has been some easing of the trend in the past month. Overall the Auckland region remains one of the strongest real estate markets in the country.

Wellington

The median price for the Wellington region fell by $13,250 (-3.4%) compared to March and by $6,000 (-1.6%) compared to April 2011. As many parts of the region had a lift in median price as had falls, with Central Wellington the stand out in terms of an increase in median price and Northern Wellington in terms of falls.

Volumes also eased back by a quarter in April with Wairarapa having the best sales result with steady sales compared to March. There were two fewer sales compared to April 2011, giving Wellington the second weakest sales result over the past 12 months.

Wellington's days to sell eased by seven days, from 34 days in March to 41 days in April. The number of days to sell improved by one day compared to April 2011.

REINZ Chief Executive Helen O'Sullivan noted that, "the continued fiscal restraint and belt tightening being shown by the Government is impacting on buyers confidence levels in the Wellington region, which is being reflected in the downward trend in house prices."

The trend in the median price is falling, albeit slowly, while the sales volume trend remains almost ruler flat. The days to sell trend is now also moving sideways after improving over the past few months. Overall the trend for Wellington seems to be moving into the negative.

Northland

Sales across the Northland region eased back by just over 10% compared to March, but were up almost one third compared to April 2011. Across the region the trends were mixed with Whangarei Country seeing a 42% decline in sales between March and April, but an increase of two thirds compared to April 2011.

The median price for Whangarei Country jumped by almost 40% in April, largely due to a small number of higher priced sales during the month. Caution should be taken in extrapolating any trend from this result. Across the region of the region prices fell by almost 8%.

Northland's days to sell improved by 24 days in April, from 72 days in March to 48 days in April and is the shortest number of days to sell for two-and-a-half years. Overall the trend in the number of days to sell remains steadily downwards.

REINZ Chief Executive Helen O'Sullivan commented, "Compared to April last year sales volume across the region is up by almost one third, although prices overall continue to ease. However, news such as the refinery expansion project may help to bring some price support to the Northland market."

The trend in the median price continues to ease with a 0.7% fall over the past 12 months. On the other hand volumes and the number of days to sell continue to improve. Overall, the trend in the Northland region is steady.

Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Sales volume growth eased back by almost 22% in April, compared to March, with Rotorua being the exception with an 11% increase in sales. Compared to April 2011 the increase in sales by just over 12% was broadly in line with the national increase, although there was some relative weakness in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui/Papamoa.

The median price across the region increased by $2,500 in April, compared to March, reversing the $2,500 decline recorded in March. Compared to April 2011 the median price increased by $2,125 (+0.7%), with most parts of the region also recording modest changes in median prices.

The region's days to sell measure eased by six days, from 49 to 55 in April, after recording a sizeable 16 days improvement in March. Compared to April last year the number of days to sell improved by five days. The overall trend in the number of days to sell continues to improve.

While the trend in volumes have been moving steadily higher, and days to sell has been improving there has been almost no change in the trend of the median price. There are some localised exceptions to this, however, across the whole region the trends remains flat.

The trends across the region are in line with what is happening across the country outside of Auckland and Christchurch, with local reports indicating some encouraging signs emerging in some centres with increasing buyer interest and properties in higher price brackets starting to move.

Hawkes Bay

Compared to April 2011 sales volumes were up by just under 40%, the strongest regional performance for the month of April. Honours were evenly shared between Napier and Hastings. In line with usual seasonal trends sales volumes in April fell over 20% compared to March.

Hawkes Bay recorded a new record median price in April of $296,000 beating the previous record of $292,500 set in Nov 2008. Price growth in Hastings was strongest, with an 18% lift in prices compared to April 2011. The 9% lift in the median price compared to April 2011 was the strongest regional performance for the month.

The number of days to sell in Hawkes Bay eased by three days from 45 in March to 48 in April, and compares to 41 days in April 2011. The trend for the days to sell is almost ruler flat.

Over the past few months the trend in the median price has started to lift, particularly with the record median price being set this month. The trend in sales volume is also starting to lift, although less rapidly than the trend in the median price.

With the uplift in the trend in the median price the overall trend for the region has also improved.

Manawatu/Wanganui

The median price for the Manawatu/Wanganui region dropped by $12,550 (-5.4%) compared to March and by $2,000 (-0.9%) compared to April 2011. Prices rose in Palmerston North and Levin, but fell elsewhere, most noticeably in Wanganui, where the median price has fallen by more than a quarter over the past 12 months.

Sales volume was also weak across the region, with only Levin showing an increase in sales compared to March. March was the best month since mid 2009 so a pull back was expected. The region recorded the largest fall in volumes compared to March, and was third weakest compared to April 2011.

The number of days to sell, which improved by 19 days in March reversed in April with the number of days to sell growing to 55 days, compared to 37 days in March (+18 days), indicating that March may have been something of an anomaly. Compared to April 2011 the number of days to sell eased by six days.

Local reports suggest that a 'two speed' market appears to be developing in Palmerston North with a sellers market developing at prices below $280,000, and a buyers market above $300,000.

Across the region the median price continues to trend sideways as does the trend in the number of days to sell, despite the large movements over the past few months. The trend in volumes, which has been rising, has eased back a little. Overall the trend in the region remains sideways.

Taranaki

The median price across the region fell by $24,550 (-8.9%) in April compared to March, although this could partly be driven by the large fall in Hawera. The median price in Harwera shot up by 20% in March, thus the overall Taranaki median could be skewed by this subsequent fall back in April.

Sales volumes across the region fell back by 25% after two strong months in Feb and March. Compared to March volumes fell across the board, with a small fall in Hawera compared to other centres. Sales were down by just one property compared with April 2011, giving Taranaki the weakest sales growth across New Zealand over the past 12 months.

The region's days to sell measure remained steady at 49 days compared to March, and was four days longer compared to April 2011. Days to sell for the region is continuing to trend sideways.

The median price is now back to the level it was in August 2008, after being at $304,000 in January 2012, a drop of over $50,000 over four months. The trend line for the median price is starting to drop, however, the overall trend for pricing remains sideways.

The upward trend in sales volume appears to have eased back, with the trend line now moving sideways. Overall the region remains in a sideways trend.

Nelson/Marlborough

The median price in the Nelson/Marlborough region improved by $3,000 (+0.9%), continuing the trend of small gains over the past few months, although the median price was down by $5,500 (-1.6%) compared to April 2011. Motueka showed the strongest price growth albeit on small volume, with Nelson going against the trend with a fall in prices.

Sales volume fell by 30% in April after a strong February and March, with large drops across the region. When compared to April 2011 sales volume was up slightly with increases in Richmond and Marlborough/Kaikoura being almost offset by falls in Nelson and Motueka.

The number of days to sell eased by eight days, from 35 in March to 43 in April. This compares with 57 days in April 2011. Despite the increase in the number of days to sell in April the trend in this measure continues to improve.

Local reports suggest that the Nelson/Marlborough region benefitted over the summer from an increased in buyer interest from Christchurch that has seen higher volumes and improved pricing, although with the onset of Autumn this influx of demand appears to have eased off.

While the median price has been lifting in the past few months by small amounts the trend remains sideways. The trend in volume, which has been steadily rising also appears to have eased back, while the days to sell trend continues to improve. Overall the trend for the region remains sideways.

Canterbury/Westland

Sales volume in the Canterbury/Westland region fell by 16.7% in April, compared to March, with all parts of the region recording a fall in volumes. Volumes fell more in parts of the region further from Christchurch, with Rangiora and North Canterbury showing relatively good performance.

Compared to April 2011 the increase was 'only' 28%, and places the region as third in terms of sales volume growth over the past 12 months. This compares with 100%+ annual growth in February and March. Across the region all parts of the region showed double digit movements with Rangiora and South Canterbury having large falls.

The median price across the region increased by $1,000 (+0.3%) compared to March and by $11,000 (+3.5%) compared to April 2011. The rate of price increase appears to be easing back in Christchurch, although Rangiora, Timaru and the West Coast are all showing relatively good price performance. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the shortage of listings is starting to ease and the number of first home buyers is increasing.

The days to sell for the region continue to fall with a further one day drop from 31 in March to 30 in April. This compares with 49 in April 2011.

The trend in the median price is still upwards, although there has been a pull back in the median price over the past few months. Volumes and number of days to sell are continuing to trend positively. Overall the trend in the region is still upwards, although at a slightly lesser pace than previously.

Central Otago Lakes

The median price for the region increase by $75,000 (+19%) in April compared to March driven by a very strong lift in prices in Queenstown. Compared to April 2011 prices are lower by $9,000 (-1.9%). As the chart below shows April 2011 saw a peak in the median price and April 2012 appears to be very similar.

Sales volume eased by only four sales in April compared to March and is the third month that sales have been over 115 compared to most of 2011 when monthly sales were averaging 80 per month. Anecdotal evidence suggests that buyers are more active and vendors are becoming more realistic about pricing in order to sell their properties.

The number of days to sell improved by one day in April compared to March, falling from 60 days to 59. This compares with 47 days in April 2011. The trend in days to sell continues to move sideways.

Local reports suggest that activity in the Central Otago Lakes Region is improving with more committed buyers and vendors being more realistic about pricing. Stock that has been on the market for some time is now starting to sell, with most buyer interest coming from rural Southland.

The trend in the median price continues to move sideways, as does the trend in the number of days to sell. The volume trend continues to lift. The overall trend for the region remains sideways.

Otago

The median price for the Otago region eased by $6,750 (-2.7%) compared to March, and almost completely reversed the increase in median price recorded in March. Compared to April 2011 the median price increased by $5,000 (+2.1%). All parts of the region saw a fall in the median price in April, with South Otago seeing the largest fall.

Sales volume was up by 4.4% compared to April 2011, and dropped by 13% in April compared to March in line with seasonal trends. Dunedin fared relatively better than other parts of the region with an 8% fall compared to March and an 8.3% increase compared to April 2011, while South and North Otago did relatively poorly.

The number of days to sell remained steady at 35 days compared to March, and is an improvement of 14 days on the 47 days recorded in April 2011. The trend in the number of days to sell continues to improve in Otago.

The trend in the median price also continues to improve, although the trend in volumes is somewhat flatter.

Overall the trend for the Otago region is modestly improving with upward trend in prices running ahead of the trend in volumes.

Southland

The number of sales in Southland fell by one quarter in April compared to March, although March was the best sales month since February 2008. The drop in sales was larger in Invercargill than other parts of the region. However, sales are still up almost 20% compared to April last year.

After an almost 10% increase in the median price in March the pull back in April is not unexpected, although prices continue to move higher in Invercargill. Across the region the median price fell by $4,000 (-2.0%) compared to March but increased by $2,750 (+1.4%) compared to April 2011.

The number of days to sell for Southland eased by three days, from 33 days in March to 36 days in April, and compares with 50 days in April 2011.

The trend in the median price continues to move sideways, with any push through $200,000 quickly reversed the following month. The upward trend in sales volume continues to improve. The trend in the number of days to sell continues to move sideways.

Overall the trend for the Southland region is steady.

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