Harcourts says prices down 19% in one area; buyers remain very price sensitive

Harcourts says prices down 19% in one area; buyers remain very price sensitive
Real Estate agency group Harcourts has released its sales figures for March showing house sale volumes rose as much as 52% in Christchurch from a year ago, while prices fell as much as 19% in South Island provincial areas including Queenstown. Harcourts Chief Executive Bryan Thompson said buyers remained very price sensitive and those vendors wanting to move properties stuck on the market for a long time must change their approach. Thomson said now was a good time for new sellers to list and for those with property on the market for some time with no success to reassess their position. "Perhaps it's time for a change in sales strategy, an aggressive auction or tender campaign and/or to review price expectations? The latter is particularly important as buyers remain very price sensitive," Thomson said. "Whatever you do, if you want to sell and what you have been doing hasn't worked then you must make a change, as continuing with a strategy that isn't working is futile," he said. Harcourts' Northern region, which includes Northland and Auckland, recorded a 31% rise in sales in March from a year ago, while the average sale price fell 5% to NZ$470,000 from NZ$497,000. The central region, which includes Hamilton, Tauranga and Gisborne recorded a sales volume increase of 47%, while the average price fell 11% to NZ$385,000. The Wellington region, which includes Palmerston North and Taranaki, recorded a 27% increase in sales volumes and an 11% fall in its average price to NZ$330,000. Christchurch volumes rose 34% and the average price fell 9% to N Z$378,000, while provincial South Island, which includes Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill, saw a 5% fall in sales volumes and a 19% fall in the average price to NZ$306,000. Thomson said while the latest sales figures were encouraging, it was "important to put them in perspective." "The statistics of a year ago were not just low, they were unsustainably so. So while the March 2009 results are noteworthy and it was a much better month than we have seen for some time, we have to remember we are comparing to an abnormally low period," Thomson said. "That said, there are various reasons buyers' confidence has returned and that the lift in sales could continue over the coming months, including the interest rate environment, more positive comments from economic crystal ball gazers and tax cuts," he said.

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