3 Apr 2023

Property listings the lowest since 2007 - New data

9:30 am on 3 April 2023
For sale sign generic

Property listings have dropped dramatically. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

New property listings around the country last month plunged to a 16-year record low for the month of March, according to latest figures.

A report from leading property website, realestate.co.nz, shows more than 9200 went up for sale last month, a drop of 17.7 per cent compared to March 2022.

It was the lowest number they had seen in March over a 16-year period and just over half of the 17,867 which hit the market in March 2007.

Realestate.co.nz spokesperson Vanessa Williams said several external factors were causing hesitancy among vendors.

"Kiwis love property. But in times of uncertainty, we tend to delay decisions to buy or sell. I think that is what we are seeing here," she said.

"We saw a similar thing in March 2020 when high levels of uncertainty with the arrival of Covid-19 and the coming election saw people hitting pause on listing their homes for sale."

Listings dropped by 16.5 per cent in March 2020 compared to the same time a year earlier, before listing numbers returned to a more typical volume a year later.

Although year-on-year listings had dropped in most regions, Coromandel (20.4 percent), Marlborough (18.6 percent) and Taranaki (9.7 percent) had bucked the trend with increases reported.

The largest drops had been felt in Gisborne (43.9 percent), Central North Island (30.2 percent), Wellington (29.7 percent), Manawatu/Whanganui (28 percent) and Hawke's Bay (26.1 percent).

Auckland had experienced a 12 month decrease of more than 22 percent.

Average house prices also dropped by 11.7 per cent year-on-year with the median asking price at $856,627.

However average asking prices in the Central Otago/Lakes region were at a 16-year high, with the average asking price soaring to just under $1.5m.

The report shows a stalling of housing stock growth compared to previous months with a year-on-year decline seen in Wellington, Gisborne and Auckland.

Coromandel was the only region that saw stock increase during March by more than 100 percent year-on-year.

Three regions last month also saw their stock levels decline in a year, including Wellington (19.4 percent), Gisborne (8 percent) and Auckland (1.8 percent).

Wellington was the only region which experienced decreasing levels the previous month also.

Williams said it may serve as an early sign of a "shift in these markets".

"New listings coming onto the market have been low since the beginning of 2023, and I think we are going to start to see this decline reflected in stock levels as the current inventory starts to sell out."

Stock was up nationally by 14.1 percent last month compared to the same time last year.

Housing stock up from 2021 low-point but taking longer to sell

Williams told Morning Report it was not unusual to see the housing market slow down ahead of general elections.

"Typically, in election year we do start to see Kiwis sit on their hands and wait to see what happens."

March was historically the busiest month for listings, she said but while last month's numbers were well down on usual, the total stock of homes on the market, regardless of when they were listed, remained at around 30,000.

"So there still is plenty of homes for sale, it's just that they are moving at a much slower rate."

The "absolute low-point of stock" nation-wide, which was around 12,500 homes, occurred in the middle of 2021, she said.

"We saw an accelerated growth during Covid, which I don't think anyone predicted ... [average prices] sort of hit a peak in 2021 of a million dollars nationally, and now we're sitting at around $850,000, so that's about a 15 percent drop from the peak."

However she noted that amount still represented a 20 percent increase in the national average asking price since the pandemic began three years ago, when it was around $700,000.

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