By Bernard Hickey
Auckland's largest real estate agency group, Barfoot and Thompson, has reported that sales volumes dropped in September from August for the first year since 2007, but it also reported a 3.2% rise in the average sale price over the month to NZ$547,883.
Barfoot and Thompson said it had pulled forward its Spring marketing programme so as not to clash with the beginning of the Rugby World Cup.
It said it had seen strong activity at the high end of the market, with 17% of sales in dollar terms coming from homes sold for more than NZ$1 million, "a far higher percentage than normal."
The figures from Barfoot and Thompson are the first released for September and are closely watched given it sells around 40% of the properties in the country's biggest market.
Barfoot said it had sold 6 homes for more than NZ$2 million and an extra 45 houses for more than NZ$1 million.
Barfoot reported selling
1,263 738 houses in September vs 758 in August. This was the first fall between August and September since 2007, when sales dropped to 765 from 899.
Sales volumes in September were up
4.9 7.1% from a year ago, although this annual sales increase was lower than the 19% annual sales increase seen in August.
The number of sales over NZ$500,000 was 334 or 61.3% of sales by value, up from 267 or 56.2% of sales in September 2010 and 50.5% in September 2007.
Barfoot and Thompson credited the earlier promotional activity for the boost in the average sales price, which was up 4.6% from a year ago.
“This represents a significant price increase given that for the past four months the average price moved no more than $2000 from $529,000 to $531,000," Barfoot and Thompson Managing Director Peter Thompson said.
“Traditionally prices rise at the start of spring, and in anticipation that the hype around rugby might interfere with our normal spring promotions, we brought our marketing campaigns forward by a month. Certainly as a result of that a number of sellers actively sought to list earlier than they might have otherwise done," Thompson said.
“In September the top end of the market was extremely active," he said, adding the majority of the high value homes were sold in the central city, eastern suburbs, Devonport and the North Shore beaches.
“You have to go back to March (when the average selling price peaked for the year at $581,000) to find a higher average monthly selling price."
Thompson said the sales for the month were in line with the number sold for the last two months.
“We continue to sell more homes on a monthly basis than we did last year, but sales numbers have remained in a tight band between 778 and 738 for the last three months," he said.
New listings at 1,263 were up 5% from the same month last year, but were down from 1,282 in August and down for the first time in this month since 2007.
“New listings remain tight and at the end of the month we had only 4798 homes on our books, 36 more homes than last month’s number, which was our lowest on record for four years.”
See more regional detail on sales and prices here at Barfoots' site.
(Updated with more interview with Peter Thompson, details, figures, corrects sales numbers)