Nationwide house sales fall 2.3% in August from July, prices up 2% (Update 3)

Nationwide house sales fall 2.3% in August from July, prices up 2% (Update 3)
The nationwide median house sale price rose in August as the number of houses sold for less than NZ$400,000 fell away and sales of more expensive houses rose from July, figures released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) show. (Update 3 includes main centres.) The number of houses sold nationwide fell 2.3% in August from July, although the median sale price rose 2% to NZ$346,750. There were 5,878 residential property sales in August 2009, up 39% from the year before but still the second lowest August since 2001. The median sale price of NZ$346,750 was up from the NZ$330,000 seen in August 2008, and only slightly below the NZ$350,000 in August 2007. The REINZ median sale price peaked at NZ$352,000 in November 2007. The overall fall in nationwide sales was down fully to a 5.9% fall in the number of houses that sold for below NZ$400,000. Sales in this category fell by 227 over the month to 3,595. These sales accounted for 61.2% of total sales in August, compared to 63.6% in July. Sales in the NZ$400,000 to NZ$599,999 range were static at 1,453; sales in the NZ$600,000 to NZ$999,999 range were up 8.3% to 667; while the number of houses sold for over NZ$1 million were up by 30.4% to 163 sales during August from July. See the chart for sales by price band here. Real estate agents around the country have been noting a shortage of listings over July and August may lead to a rise in sale prices in coming months as the spring selling season kicks into gear. The REINZ said the residential real estate market in August continued the steady pattern seen over the past few months. REINZ President Mike Elford said the noticeable increase in number and speed of turnover compared with a year ago was pleasing, but said: "it is early days yet, and we still need to be cautious in drawing conclusions from these trends". "Nevertheless, the latest statistics are in line with other signs in the economy that financial commentators have suggested point to a recovery from recession," Elford said. "Like those commentators, we would be reluctant to say the hard times are over, but if the trees are not yet in full bloom, there are certainly buds in view," he said. The REINZ's new Monthly Housing Price Index, designed with help from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, showed house prices were up 1.2% in August from July and up 2.6% from a year ago. The Index showed house prices in August were 6.2% below their November 2007 peak. In July, the Index was down 7.3% from its peak. The number of house sales in August from July rose slightly in Auckland, Wellington, Central Otago Lakes and Otago, but fell in all other areas. See sales charts for all 12 regions here. Auckland sales were up 2.1% from July to 2,067 as the median sale price rose by NZ$10,000 to NZ$450,000 in August. Wellington sales were practically still (up by 4 sales to 622), while the median sale price there rose by NZ$25,500 to NZ$395,500. In Canterbury/Westland, sales fell by 2.2% to 885, while the median price was down by NZ$2,000 to NZ$295,000. The REINZ's 'days to sell' figure was 34 days in August 2009, from 37 in July and 55 in August 2008.

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