Game of two halves

Wednesday 17 March 2010

The housing market appears to be a game of two halves, with some areas seeing substantially more sales activity than others.

By The Landlord

The influx of new stock onto the market across the country recently has given buyers more choice, but activity has not been even across the board, according to the latest Harcourts MarketWatch.

The number of new listings in the Northern region was up 44% compared to February last year, while Wellington, Christchurch and Central regions were also up substantially, with 40% and 39% and 37% respectively according to Harcourts' offices.

However, the steady number of new listings did not equate to evenly spread sales activity, highlighting pockets of activity.

Harcourts' Northern region saw written sales increase 8% compared to February 2009, while the Wellington region showed no change. Christchurch saw a staggering 13% decline in written sales compared to February last year.

The South Island Provincial region saw a 7% decline in written sales, while the Central region of the North Island showed a 1% decline.

Activity also appears to be in the higher-end brackets, rather than in investor-type areas, says Harcourts' CEO Bryan Thomson.

"Some of the [regional differences] can at least be partially attributed to fears about potential tax regime changes, as higher priced areas particularly in Central Auckland appear to be experiencing stronger levels of activity than more investor-driven parts of the market," Thomson says.

"It is important to note that New Zealand is not one market, with some locations seeing lower levels of sales activity and others seeing continuing strength."

Average price increased in all regions throughout the country in February compared to February last year, according to Harcourts, with the Northern region increasing 14%, Central 13%, Wellington 3%, Christchurch 4% and South Island Provincial 18%, highlighting the lack of listings seen over the past year.

"While the government has already ruled out some tax reforms, I am sure everyone is looking forward to the budget announcement in May which will give some certainty to all New Zealanders," Thomson says.

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