Barfoot & Thompson, Auckland's biggest real estate agent, says it sold more houses in December than it has in the final month of a year for five years.
The company said it made 714 sales in December, up 190, or 36%, from 524 in December 2010. It's Barfoot & Thompson's highest volume of December sales since it sold 781 properties in December 2006.
Its average December selling price was NZ$573,071, up 1%, or about NZ$5,500, from November. That was topped last year only by March's NZ$581,190, and is up NZ$43,389, or 8%, from NZ$529,682 in December 2010.
“December was extremely active, and it has given early momentum to January’s market,” said Peter Thompson, Barfoot & Thompson's managing director.
“In part, the strong finish to the year was assisted by there being three full weeks of trading leading up to Christmas.”
That said, Thompson said the market remained "restrained” with house prices increasing only modestly, with the difference between the average price achieved for all of 2011 NZ$543,124, or 2.5% higher than for 2010.
Lowest average monthly new listings for more than a decade
Thompson also said the number of houses being listed for sale remains low.
"December’s new listings at 846 followed the normal seasonal pattern of being low compared to previous months, but the average number of new listings each month for the 12 months was 1,220 - the lowest average number for more than a decade and 7.7% lower than for 2010," said Thompson.
“We also finished December with only 4,583 homes on our books, the lowest number at a month’s end for four and a half years, and 1,282 fewer homes than at the same time last year.”
For the first quarter of this year Thompson predicted the Auckland housing market would probably follow a similar pattern to last year, with prices increasing modestly and new listings remaining weak.
“Further out prospects for a more active market are positive," he said.
“The population of Auckland is growing and new house stats remain low, leading to the city facing a major shortage of accommodation. As the national economy improves, and people become more confident in their personal financial situation, they will act on their housing plans, and this will lead to the market becoming more active," said Thompson.
Barfoot & Thompson's announcement on its December sales comes after Quotable Value said yesterday house values in the Auckland region rose 4.3% during 2011 and ended the year at their highest level ever, 1.4% above the previous peak of late 2007. QV said the average sales price in the Auckland area over the last three months of 2011 was NZ$525,532.