By Gareth Vaughan and Bernard Hickey
Barfoot & Thompson, Auckland's biggest real estate agent, says it sold more houses in February than in any February since 2007, and although the average price was up only 2.7% from a year ago, it has sold more houses for above NZ$1 million in the first two months of the year since 2007.
Barfoot & Thompson said it sold 764 houses in February, up 145, or 23%, from 619 in February last year with the average price for the month at NZ$536,069, up 1.2% from January, and up 2.7% on February 2011. Sales were also up 81, or 12%, from 683 in January this year.
It was the strongest February in terms of sales volumes since 1,033 sales in February 2007.
“Prices are edging up, but only at a modest rate,” said Peter Thompson, managing director of Barfoot & Thompson. “It is also a normal part of the regular market fluctuation for prices to increase in February over those for January.”
Thompson said the market segment where the most noticeable change took place was in the NZ$1 million plus price range.
“In February we sold 41 homes for in excess of $1 million, compared to 29 in February last year, and this followed on the sale in January of 40 $1 million homes, nearly double the number for the previous January,” said Thompson.
“You have to go back to the peak selling year of 2007 to find more $1 million homes sold in the first two months of a new year.”
Meanwhile, Barfoot & Thompson listed 1,552 new houses in February, up from 1,031 listings in January.
“While this was up 50.5% on those for January and contributed to sales numbers increasing, the number was in line with the number of new listings in February last year.”
Thompson said the firm had 4,917 properties on its books at the end of February, the lowest number at this time of the year for five years.
“Lack of listings is still holding the market back from being more active," he added.
However, Interest.co.nz's analysis of the figures also shows the 'drop out' rate, which measures the numbers of listings from previous months that dropped off Barfoot & Thompson's listings in February, rose to 637 or 13.4%, which was the highest rate since July 2009.
The regional breakdown of the Barfoot figures show the biggest sales growth in February from a year ago was in South Auckland and West Auckland, with growth of 82% to 122 and and 37% to 122 respectively. Eastern suburb volumes actually fell to 65 from 68 a year ago. Central Auckland sales, which often includes apartments, were steady at 24.
Central suburbs were also flat at 109. North Shore sales rose 14% to 170.
However, the price action showed a different picture.
The average price for central Auckland, which includes apartments, rose 33.6% to NZ$282,879, while the average price for the central suburbs, which includes Mt Eden, Epsom and Parnell, rose 13.5% to NZ$679,820.
The average price for Eastern suburbs, which include Remuera, St Heliers and Mission Bay, rose 22.6% to NZ$790,285.
(Updated with regional details, drop out rate)