Harcourts, which describes itself as New Zealand's biggest real estate agency group, said that the volume of its written sales for May appeared to be up 35% from May last year, although fully audited results would be released in two weeks time. The early sales data announcement comes a day after Westpac economists said they did not think the recent housing rebound was going to last as long term interest rates and unemployment rise. ASB raised its five year mortgage rate back to 8% on Friday morning. Auckland's largest real estate agency Barfoot & Thompson released their May figures earlier this week, saying sales volumes were up 58% in May from a year ago. Harcourts NZ CEO Bryan Thompson Thomson said the May figures were a reflection of the current "sound" market and the "abysmal" market of May 2008 in many locations. Thomson also said that it was concerning that the amount of properties listed over the last few months continued to be below the norm. "Listings typically start to ease off at this time of year but the number of properties coming on to the market is even lower than expected and when combined with the increase in sales this is making it difficult for buyers," Thomson said.
"I can only assume that some people are concerned about the price they may receive for their property and are therefore reluctant to list it at this time, however with the abundance of buyers in the market there is actually considerable competition for good properties and some excellent prices are being achieved around the country," he said. Harcourts said that the early announcement was "a new initiative given there seems to be a lot of interest early in the month on how the market was in the previous month."