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NZ Property prices eased slightly last month

Sean Wang - Friday, July 06, 2012

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Residential property asking prices in New Zealand eased slightly in June, down to $424,315 from the record high in May, according to the latest figures.

However, pressure in the Canterbury market saw a new record high asking price for the third month in a row with analysts saying that overall the sector has moved back to a sellers’ market.

After a surge of fresh listing in May, June saw inventory slipping back, down 8% on a seasonally adjusted basis and up only 6% compared with a year ago, figures from realestate.co.nz show. The stock of unsold houses on the market fell sharply to below 30 weeks, the lowest level since February 2008.

‘It seems that just as we sensed a stabilising of the property market in terms of new listings responding to the growing demand as was witnessed in May, the market has swung again and the ever present property shortage just got worse and the current level of inventory is down to the lowest it has been for four years,’ explained Alistair Helm.

He explained that this situation has arisen as a consequence of very strong sales in May, the seasonally adjusted total of 6,154 was up 26% on April. In total the first five months of this year show sales up 25%. At the same time listings over the same period are only up 9%.

‘To put this into perspective the number of properties on the market across the country at this time is 43,691. If the rate of sale was to continue and no new listings were to be added that stock would be sold out by the last day of December this year. A year ago there were 47,738 properties on the market, at that time the then rate of sales would have meant that it would have taken until the middle of March next year to sell out all that stock,’ said Helm.

‘The months of June, July and August are proportionally the lowest of the year both in absolute terms but also in relation to sales. This three month period represents 22.4% of the total listings for the year as opposed to 24% of the sales for the year. If this  traditional seasonal  situation is  experienced  this year and the rate of sale continues at current levels it is likely that the New Zealand property market will reach critically low inventory in absolute terms as the market moves into the key spring season in just two months’ time,’ he added.

The  seasonally adjusted  truncated mean asking price for listings in June eased from the record high of $435,887 set in May to a June level of $424,315. The month on month decrease of 2.7% takes the month level to 1.6% up on June last year.

Across the 19 regions of the country the asking prices generally eased. The biggest falls were seen in Taranaki, Northland and the Central Otago/Queenstown lakes area where prices fell by 10% or greater on a seasonally adjusted basis. In total there were 11 regions reporting falls in asking price on a seasonally adjusted basis, with just eight showing increases.

The largest regional increase was seen in Gisborne, a region which does witness volatility as a function of scale. Most notable region reporting an increase was Canterbury which showed a 1.6% seasonally adjusted increase to set a new record level of asking price expectation off the back of a record low level of inventory.