A sharp fall in the number of house sales throughout New
Zealand in April has deepened the underlying trend for easing
volumes, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive
Helen O'Sullivan says.
Figures released by the REINZ yesterday showed there were
5670 sales in the month, down 20.2% on April last year and
down 22.5% compared with March this year.
The national median price was $432,250, an increase of
$41,750 compared with April last year, but a fall of $7750
While April was generally a softer month for sales, coming
off the back of a generally strong March and with the added
complication of school holidays and Easter, those factors
could not explain the entire drop between April last year and
this year, Ms O'Sullivan said.
The volume had retreated to 2012 levels and was the
seventh-lowest April volume recorded by the REINZ in the 23
years it has published sales data.
The decline had affected all regions, including Auckland and
Christchurch, where much of the price pressure had been in
The number of sales in the under-$400,000 category continued
to fall faster than the market overall, suggesting the
loan-to-value ratio restrictions were continuing to have an
effect on buyer intentions at the lower price points, while
the rise in the official cash rate also was likely to have
had an effect, she said.
Southland recorded the largest fall compared with March, of
28.7%, while Manawatu-Wanganui recorded the largest fall
compared with April last year, of 29.4%, followed by Otago
with a drop of 24.3%.
First-home buyers in Otago remained cautious and investors
were also taking a ''wait-and-see approach''. Vendors were
being realistic about their price expectations, although the
number of listings was lower than expected for this time of
year, she said.
Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon warned the data
needed to be treated with caution, citing the potential
effect of Easter and Anzac Day having fallen in the same
Some people treated it as a week-long break, which might have
temporarily depressed the level of activity.
The drop in sales might prove to be an exception, but
judgement would be withheld until the May figures were
available, Mr Gordon said.
In contrast, house prices - which would not have been
affected by the Easter timing - continued to hold up.
The stratified price index rose 0.6% in April, on top of a
combined 2.8% increase in February and March, Mr Gordon said.