Harcourts' March sales volumes down 7.5% year-on-year as the summer selling season ended on a quieter note

Sales were a bit softer at the country's largest real estate agency in March, while selling prices were more mixed.

Harcourts sold 2170 residential properties throughout the country in March, down 7.5% compared to March last year.

March is traditionally the busiest month of the year for residential real estate and is an important indicator of how buoyant the market is.

Harcourt's sales were down in all regions compared to a year earlier, led by Wellington and lower North Island -10.7%, and followed by the South Island excluding Christchurch  -8.6%, Auckland -7.5%, Christchurch -5.1% and central North Island (which includes Waikato and Bay of Plenty) -1.0%.

While sales were down 7.5% overall for the month, there was an even bigger decline in new listings received by Harcourts, which were down 13.3% across the whole country in March compared to year earlier.

The biggest decline in new listings was in Auckland where they dropped 22.1% compared to a year earlier, followed by central regions -10.5%, Christchurch -9.1%, Wellington and Lower North Island -8.2% and South Island excluding Christchurch -5.0%.

However even with the decline in new listings, the decline in the total number of homes the agency has on its books was modest, falling to 6964 at the end of March, down just 2.6% compared to a year earlier.

Selling prices were a mixed bag, with the average price of all homes sold throughout the country by Harcourts in March coming in at $616,721, almost unchanged from a year earlier.

In Auckland the average selling price was down 1.64% and in Christchurch it was down 7%.

In the central North Island regions the average selling price was up 10%, and in Wellington and the lower North Island it was up 8%. The average price in the South Island excluding Christchurch was also up 8%.

Harcourts' chief executive Chris Kennedy said it was great to see steady activity and price increases in the regions.

"There is always such a lot of focus on Auckland and Christchurch, which were indeed a little quieter than last year in March, but when you look at the country as a whole, there is still plenty of activity from both buyers and sellers," he said.

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42 Comments

Approximately that is 175 lesser residential property sales.

In trademe and realestate, new listings are rising or at least consistent with the volume. I'm wondering why it's not the case for Harcourts?

With all the news related to the properties nowadays, a commonly used word is "DOWN"

watch what you say paengski, there are some who don't like that word when it comes to property, they will shoot you DOWN

Average selling price nationwide coming in unchanged @ $616,721. When adjusted for inflation, prices are heading SOUTH. Auckland and Christchurch......DOWN.

Surrendering is not an option.

@RP, you have the IQ to understand that, but unfortunately not everyone do... :)

"There is always such a lot of focus on Auckland and Christchurch, which were indeed a little quieter than last year in March, but when you look at the country as a whole, there is still plenty of activity from both buyers and sellers,"

When Auckland isn't doing so well lets just ignore it........

"March is traditionally the busiest month of the year for residential real estate". For any agents/agency's on life support, this does not bode well.

Agencies and banks best spin is calling a decline, one wonders what the truth really is at the coal face. The 3% (insert tui) that has stopped spending really looks like it was the artificial element that skyrocketed pricing (#nosurprise) with speculators leveraging up like grinning madmen for the free ride up (great while it lasts). At what point do tax paying kiwi wallets open to cushion the current state of decline and at what point to the banks start making margin calls on the over leveraged?

"There is always such a lot of focus on Auckland and Christchurch, which were indeed a little quieter than last year in March, but when you look at the country as a whole, there is still plenty of activity from both buyers and sellers,"

hahaha now even RE folks are giving up on Auckland and moving focus on higher yielding areas..

Everyone, lets be a little positive.. go out there and buy another house because you only live once!

Look at all that tax-free income pretending not to be income. Hope those working plebs are working hard to pay the taxes instead.

"market fatigue"? I don't think i've heard that in regular parlance since 2009 and now i'm hearing it everywhere again (although more often in reference to shares).
Still, i'm not sure I agree with Corelogic that "market fatigue" has much to do with the current stance in the NZ housing market, I think the slight cooling is more of a credit cycle issue IMO. And unless purchased very, very recently, I wouldn't expect anyone to be making any losses on their house purchase and even then, only if they were in Auckland and paid silly money for something. Could be a different story by Q4 though.

Yup, it is a good time to cash up. Whoever bought house few years ago should expect to gain a decent profit. it is those bought houses in the last 12 months at the market price will suffer a bit but not too much.

Really, this item from Greg gets some of you excited because the real estate market is sluggish?
Many have been going on for years saying that house prices were going to drop by 40 % or more!
What happened the market went up hugely and many who listened and sat on the sidelines by not buying, now find that they will never be able to own their own home!
The market is the market, most economic analysts are wrong most of the time and the ones that use theie foresight and actually invest wisely are the winners!
You can wish for what ever you want but at the end of the day the winners are the ones who act and the ones not so fortunate are the negatives!

up
10

"the first thing I must do is play this down. CHCH market swings on my every word. I CAN make this go away - yes,yes I can" (breathless panting)

Geez, if Chch prices are sluggish it is an advantage for investors as property yields are better!
If first home buyers get into the market then prices will rise again so it doesn’t worry us whatsoever RP!
When your rental yields average around 10%per cent on purchase price, nothing is a worry and we don’t sell either. So all is good!

To quote St John the Key, "at the end of the day it is what it is" and I don't think any of us really has an idea of what's going to happen. What we do know is that Kiwis currently have record housing debt and interest rates are at a record low.

And China has stemmed capital outflows for the moment. And we're at the end of an unprecedented effort in QE to stave off the natural down part of economic cycles, something many suggest hasn't and cannot ultimately work.

Much like Seinfeld Medical School's "tube coming down from the mouth... into the circle area", that's pretty much all we know.

(And the item from Greg gets us excited because Greg's just a lovely guy.)

To quote St John the Key, "at the end of the day it is what it is" and I don't think any of us really has an idea of what's going to happen.

Did he really say that? What kind of vision did the guy have for NZ then? A speculative market driven by asset prices combined with groundbreaking tech industries and raw commodities? That sounds quite similar to what Australia is hoping for. Is it really achievable?

"The reason I wanted to change the flag was to have something that was uniquely New Zealand, so that we could build a more overt sense of national pride," Sir John said.

What John Key got wrong was that most young Kiwis would rather have a country their own than a new flag on land that belongs to others.

The winners are the ones who bought in Auckland, the Bay of Plenty , Hawkes Bay and The Lakes. At a stretch Nelson and Dunedin. Poor old Christchurch. The boomers who held there are going backwards. They were lucky at one stage in time but there was a time to sell and diversify. I bet some of them wished they had a crystal ball.

Gordon, you can say what you want to bait “The Man”
Reality is that on paper we have made millions on capital gain from purchase to current valuation!
Truth is that we don’t need to sell and when out returns are positive we never will!
All,tenanted and rents holding up well!
That offer is still on the table though Gordon, but we all know that you haven’t got the fortitude to take it up!
I am forever hopeful that you will take it up though!

Emphasis on the words “ on paper” when you live in Christchurch The Boy. You certainly let your family down by not having the ability or courage to diversify in better returning areas of New Zealand.

“On Paper” Gordon because we don’t sellL
If we sold we would done exceedingly well but no need to!
Where would we invest it in?
We have such a good lifestyle thru property in Chch and won’t change that!

"on paper" = "unbanked". Boasting one's own financial vulnerabilities is a weakness of the undiversified. This Pony knows no other trick. Anyway, even if you were to liquidate with gain, under the IRD can consider the "initial intention provision" the Coalition would certainly welcome your reluctant contribution ;-)

Property speculator/Landlords such as yourself and Echo Bird have become reluctant investors. With the evolution of Government policy, its now dictating to you what Landlord behavior should be. It's also disincentivize many from liquidating, temporarily accentuating the affordable housing shortage. Note: temporarily.

It needs to be "on paper" as Christchurch prices and rents continue to drop. Winter will make things worse as you certainly have shocking ones. And you wonder why your population is so small and Auckland is so large.

Hi TM2,

I truly sympathize with your positive mindset. But nah, we'll wait a bit longer before buying our first home. And btw we are not negative people, probably the greedy ones are?

'And we're at the end of an unprecedented effort in QE to stave off the natural down part of economic cycles, something many suggest hasn't and cannot ultimately work' - this is the big one in my view. It matters not a jot what happens here locally if, and that's a huge IF, QE and the unprecedented deleveraging entailed, is a little more precarious than some might have anticipated. To my understanding the only historical reference even conservatively close to what is potentially awaiting us, was the Great Depression. Given the breathtaking credit excesses and at the same time declining economic growth through much of my life something has to give. This is not scaremongering, just simple rational logic. The wheels that will ultimately drive us to whatever end is in store began turning a long time ago but things have, in more recent times, accelerated, surpassing even the most dramatic of expectations as to how high the cliff will be when we fall from it.

and just a note, I’m no DGM either. Just a patient observer and participant in many ‘markets’ and wish all well in their investing activities or otherwise. Whatever floats your boat.

There's commenters here who have been "patiently observing" since the national average price was about $200k. Back in 2007 there were a lot of Hickey fans claiming to have sold "at the peak" and were waiting to buy back in at 30% less. Now sleeping in cars.

I agree but it still amazes me how the doomers still manage to pull what they see out of the stats and call this a crash. Property is going to plateau if your in an average house in a reasonable suburb. If you live in the Bronx its going to go down a bit if you live in a top area its still going to go up. If you no longer have a mortgage you really don't care anyway, if you sell cheaper you also buy cheaper in the same market

Hi Carlos 67,

You're spot on with your analysis. I agree with what you say.

It's interesting, isn't it, that some well-known DGM here are now trying to distance themselves from that group......

They're no longer talking of a crash - but rather a plateauing of house prices. Finally, it's dawned upon them that a crash is a most unlikely event. The worst cases are those particular DGM who are now denying that they ever predicted a crash. That's blatantly dishonest.

TTP

Hi TTP,

Please save this post. I call a crash within 12 months!

GM

There are also many who patiently observe who, if interested, have a number of cars in which they could, if they so desired, get some sleep. Personally I don’t like to sleep on hand stitched leather unless I’m in the doghouse with my wife.

Nobody has called it a crash. The most basic factors tell you the downside risk particularly in Auckland is massive. If you are geared up on a low yielding Auckland rental right now you should be very worried. There will be a considerable correction over the next few years whether that is fast or slow nobody knows but the deleveraging is starting to pan out.

Agree Carlos67. I bought my flats during 2005 & 2006, at total price of $1.050M with rental income of $60K. Now have CV's worth $2.55M with income of $150K. I know about property/credit cycles and how that works. In 2020 property values will take off again, maybe not as much as the last cycle but still growth. However, rental income will go up hugely over the next two years even if they do turn the immigration tap off now. The BS that is written by some commentators on this website is laughable. Unless there is some exogenous factor impacting on NZ like a war or a huge geological catastrophe, the cycle will continue on.

I'm interested in who you think is going to pay these massive rent increases? Or are you expecting wages to increase massively also?

Good question. Do wages have to rise? Based on the Herald figures, renting one bedroom in an Avondale flat costs 22% of income. If it was a DINK couple taking the whole house then it would be 34% of the combined income. How much would a leveraged house owner pay out of their income to live in the same house? I'd say a lot more than the renter ipso facto the tenant can pay more without a wage increase, they just dont have to, right now.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11650103

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/07/nz-s-homelessness-the-wor...

Yep, theres plenty of spare money to pay increased rent. No problems at all. If rents go up, many will simply downsize, pushing those at the bottom of the heap out the bottom of the market. More overcrowded rentals and more tax increase to raise money for more accomodation supplements. And more reason for young Kiwis to leave NZ and take their taxpayer funded education to other countries.

Yep, and that's really the crux of the matter that National and its speculators and banks buddies overlooked, or just didn't care about.

The stupid house prices are forcing our educated youth overseas (how big is the student loan hole again). We can continue to let a flood of other cultures (mainly Asian and Indian) in to fill the gap, but then the nimby gene in the older property owners are complaining about a lack of kiwi trained nurses and doctors are, and that they have to fly to Aussie to visit grandchildren. Go figure.

PKchew knows about property cycles everyone. Apparently in 2020 it will all take off again so lets all load up and gear up now while its cheap. Easy money.

Put his/her current position up against a 2007 Hickey acolyte and I know who has a better retirement outlook.

Ok lets understand his/her position a bit more then. Where are your "flats" PK Chew? Lets see if your numbers are correct.