NZ home sales creep up in March, still subdued   16 Apr 2010

Businesswire – Total residential sales crept up last month from February, though the pace of the recovery is still subdued, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data.

Total residential house sales climbed 23% to 6,161 last month from February, though they were down 8% compared to March 2009, according to REINZ figures released today. Buyers were making their decisions much more quickly, with the average time to sell down to 35 days, compared to 46 days in February and 44 days in the same month a year earlier. The national average median price rose to $360,500 in March from $350,000 in February, and $335,000 the same month a year ago.

“What is happening now is in strong contrast to the market in November when listed were short and prices went up because demand was not being met,” said Peter McDonald, REINZ president, in a statement. “We are still seeing prices going up as a result of strong demand from genuine home buyers.”

The property market has been subdued this year as banks approve fewer mortgages and demand for new housing eases from last year’s peak. House values have been flat for the past few months, and rose 6.1% in the 12 months through March, according to QV Valuations.

The REINZ monthly housing price index, which was constructed with the Reserve Bank to provide a more accurate reading of house prices, rose 1.7% to 3,268.6 in March. Prices have increased 6.8% from March 2009, and are 3.3% below their peak in November 2007. Still, over the three months to March, prices fell 1.3%, according to the index.

Auckland house prices jumped to $475,500 in March from $453,500 in February, while sales rose to 2,187 from 1,578 a month earlier. Prices in Wellington increased to $409,000 from $392,000 in February, while sales increased to 763 from 607.

Prices in Christchurch dropped to $320,000 in March from $329,000 a month earlier, though the number of sales increased to 595 from 519. Dunedin prices rose to $249,000 last month from $235,000 in February, with sales up to 213 from 175.

(BusinessWire)

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