6 Jun 2014

Properties selling at auction - agency

7:33 am on 6 June 2014

About 80 percent of houses which go to auction with Auckland's largest real estate agency, Barfoot & Thompson, sell within seven days of the auction, the company says.

That's despite a slowing Auckland housing market in which it sold 1109 houses last month - 14 percent fewer than in May last year but still up 37 percent on April.

Foreign investors make up a small proportion of house buyers, so are not pushing up house prices - Housing Minister Nick Smith.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Last month, new listings of houses available for sale were at a three-month low.

The agency, which sells one in three homes in Auckland, said new listings were down 19 percent from April at 1318.

It had 3498 properties for sale on its books at the end of May, the second-lowest number in May for more than 10 years.

Managing director Peter Thompson said by now it's a well-worn story: Auckland has too many people chasing too few properties and it would take time for the supply of houses to increase to alleviate this situation.

There was a trend towards properties being passed in at auction either selling later that same day or within the next week, he said.

For the past about three to four weeks, the company had sold an average of 45-55 percent of auction properties under the hammer.

"But the auction doesn't just stop at the fall of the hammer, or not fall of the hammer. Normally a lot of negotiation goes on and within about a seven-day period, it's between 80-85 percent of the properties are sold," Mr Thompson said.

"I think the big difference we're seeing is those that aren't sold under the hammer, there's new opportunities for people to make conditional offers and some of the first-home buyers that are subject to raising finance etc are entering the market at that time."

Mr Thompson believed the Reserve Banks loan to value ratio (LVR) restrictions were the right way to go and would stop people getting themselves into financial trouble.

However, he believed it would take time for people to get their heads around what they could afford.

"That's where this LV ratio is very important - it restricts how much they can borrow and it means people, if they're wanting to buy property, they're going to have to buy in areas they can actually afford, not where they would love to live but where they can actually afford," he said.

"It's moving people's heads to that factor."

He believed that was a good thing as it was stopping people from overcommitting, especially at a time when interest rates were increasing.