11 Mar 2014

First-time home buyers a vanishing species

11:08 am on 11 March 2014

House sales have continued to ease, while prices continue to rise, though more slowly.

The Real Estate Institute says sales numbered about 6100 in February, a drop of 8 percent compared with February last year. That's the third successive month they've fallen, following the introduction of lending restrictions to cool the property market.

The national median house price rose 9 percent to $415,000, but it is increasing at a slower pace.

The institute's chief executive, Helen O'Sullivan, says just two of the 12 regions recorded rises in sales volume, and the sale of houses worth less than $400,000 - a key market for first-time home buyers - fell by 18 percent.

Ms O'Sullivan says first-time buyers have largely disappeared from the market since the introduction of lending restrictions for those with small deposits last October.

Analysts expect the property market to cool even further this year, due to expected interest rate rises making it more expensive to own a home.