16 Apr 2024

Housing market activity picking up, new data shows

9:02 am on 16 April 2024
Houses around Lyttelton area in Christchurch

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Activity in the housing market is picking-up as increasing stock levels give buyers more options.

The Real Estate Institute (REINZ) house price index, which measures the changing value of properties, fell 1.2 percent in March from February.

Prices fell in most of the main centres last month, led down by the Auckland region, which fell 1.9 percent.

However, the national median price rose 2.7 percent to $800,000 from $779,000 the year earlier.

REINZ chief executive Jen Baird said market activity rose last month with a 23 percent increase in the number of listings and increased stock levels.

"The current economic environment with higher interest rates and some uncertainty in the jobs market will mean some buyers remain cautious, with prices still off their peaks from a couple of years ago, however growing numbers of buyers are acting now," she said.

"Most agents are cautiously optimistic that market activity will continue to pick up as we move into the cooler months."

She said agents were seeing activity among a range of buyer groups, with first-home buyers and owner occupiers being the most active.

Sales activity was up in 13 of 16 regions compared, with a more than 10 percent increase in seven regions while the total number of properties sold rose 7.4 percent from February, or 8 percent up on the year earlier.

"This summer has seen a return to a more normal level of real estate market activity after a relatively slow and subdued 2023," Baird said.

"Some buyers may want to act now ahead of potential further lifts in sale prices or potential increased competition for properties, as upcoming changes to bring the bright line test back to two years, and the reintroduction of interest deductibility on investment properties, are expected to draw some investors back to the market in the next few months."