14 Feb 2019

As market slows, time taken to sell house goes up

12:24 pm on 14 February 2019

The softening of the housing market has been backed by data showing growth in prices slowing further, few houses on the market and fewer being sold.

An auction sign outside a house for sale in Auckland.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Real Estate Institute's latest report shows the national house price index rose 3.1 percent last month on the previous year, slightly down on the December annual rate.

The median national price of a house was $550,000, marginally lower than last month, but 5.8 percent higher than a year ago.

However, prices were lower in the Auckland region and the number of houses sold was at a two-year low.

While in Auckland, the median price fell 2.4 percent to $800,000, prices for the rest of the country grew by 10.1 percent.

"January has pointed to a two-tier market continuing around the country with Auckland and Canterbury experiencing a slowdown in price, but the rest of the country has seen strong price growth," REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said.

"This increase in price once again highlights how the lack of supply is continuing to push up house prices."

Five regions set new record high median prices including Waikato, Manawatu and Whanganui, Marlborough, Otago and Southland.

The Auckland market was a mixed picture, she said, with outlying districts showing the most weakness, but continued strength in suburbs closer to the central city.

National seasonally adjusted sales were down 2.5 percent in 2018, and at their lowest level in two years.

Ms Norwell said the number of houses available to be sold was also falling, dropping at its fastest rate in five months, and was causing concern in the industry.

"These low levels of inventory will continue to push prices up in these regions and are likely to cause people to have to look further out for affordable properties."

Another indicator of the softer market was the time taken to sell a home which pushed out to an average 48 days, the longest in seven years.

Ms Norwell said a pickup in the next few months could be expected after the summer break, but anti-money laundering rules which now apply to real estate agents were slowing sales.

Housing market data from Quotable Value this week painted a picture of a market moving sideways.

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