By Amanda Morrall
National home sales volumes rose 16% year-on-year last month and prices 2.5%, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand's (REINZ) latest monthly report for August.
REINZ data shows there were 6,035 unconditional home sales last month, an increase of 843 sales (or 16.2%) compared with August last year and an increase of 2.2% compared with July.
The national median house price increased NZ$9,000 from NZ$361,000 in July to $370,000 in August. The Auckland median price, meanwhile, rose NZ$5,500, or 1.1%, to a new record high of NZ$505,500.
The national REINZ Stratified Housing Price Index, which averages sales prices for common groups of houses and is developed alongside the Reserve Bank, rose 1.3% month-on-month to 3,420.1 to a new record high. The Auckland and Christchurch stratified indexes also hit fresh record highs.
Meanwhile there were 533 sections sold in August, the most in one month since October 2009, with a median price of NZ$191,500 versus NZ$170,000 in July.
REINZ's chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said Auckland home buyers were increasingly driving the national market having snapped a seasonal lull in the winter months.
“Normally at this time of year we see a dip in sales volumes; this year, apart from the weather, winter was cancelled in Auckland. Across the rest of the country while we are continuing to see rising sales volumes, prices continue to reflect the general caution around the economic outlook," O'Sullivan said.
"In many parts of the country we are also seeing shortages of houses available for sale, often a market feature at the end of winter, although expectations for a rush of listings in the spring are not strong.”
O'Sullivan said, however, that the market remained in recovery mode.
“This increased level of activity does need to be seen in context of an overall housing market that is still subdued and with prices yet to catch-up with increases in the consumer price index over the last five years.”
Nelson/Marlborough recorded the highest lift in prices for the month of August with an increase of 9.6%, followed by Taranaki with 7.3%, and Southland with 5.9%.
Compared with August 2011, Auckland recorded the highest lift in prices with an increase of 11.6%, followed by Canterbury/Westland with 6.2% and Wellington with 5.2%.
All regions recorded increases in sales volume compared with August last year, with Northland recording an increase of just under 31%, followed by Auckland with 25.6% and Taranaki with 22.2%. Seven regions recorded increases in sales in August compared to July, with Central Otago Lakes recording a 25.0% increase, Southland an 11.2% increase and Nelson/Marlborough an 8.9% increase. Taranaki recorded a 14.0% fall in sales in August compared to July, with Manawatu/Wanganui recording an 8.2% fall and Wellington a 2.8% fall in sales.
The national median days to sell improved to 35 in August from 38 in July and 39 in August 2011.