15 Jun 2020

Covid-19 restrictions hit house sales in May

10:30 am on 15 June 2020

The number of houses sold last month almost halved as level 3 restrictions made it difficult to show properties, but median prices went up.

An auction sign outside a house for sale in Auckland.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Real Estate Institute's house price index rose 7.9 percent in May compared to the same month last year, as national house prices continued to fetch record prices in some regions.

The median national house price rose by a seasonally adjusted 6.9 percent compared to the year before to $620,000 but was down 8 percent on April.

Waikato, Taranaki and Tasman saw record prices rise over the year earlier, while Auckland's median house rose 7 percent to $910,000.

Again, there were no regions with annual increases in sales volumes during May. However, all regions had an uplift in sales volumes from April.

The number of residential properties sold across New Zealand fell 48.5 percent in May when compared to the same time last year.

Regions with the largest decrease in annual sales volumes during May:

  • Tasman: -62.5 percent (from 80 to 30 - 50 fewer houses)
  • Otago: -56.2 percent (from 479 to 210 - 269 fewer houses)
  • Southland: -54.8 percent (from 210 to 95 - 115 fewer houses)
  • Marlborough: -54.3 percent (from 105 to 48 - 57 fewer houses).

Record median prices were recorded in:

  • Waikato with a 9.5 percent increase to $598,000 up from $546,000 at the same time last year
  • Taranaki with a 16.7 percent increase to $426,000 up from $365,000 at the same time last year - just $1000 higher than the previous record median set in March this year
  • Tasman with a 19.9 percent increase to $701,500 up from $585,000 at the same time last year.

Institute chief executive Bindi Norwell said it was difficult to show properties over the first 12 days of the month with level 3 restrictions in place.

"These restrictions meant only two property viewings, per property, per day were allowed, making it difficult to get interested parties through a property in a timely and efficient manner."

She said there had been an ongoing shortage of listings, which would continued to affect sales volumes. The total number of properties for sale fell 19.1 percent last month.