Positive signs for property sales

Aerial photograph of Queenstown. Photo by ODT.
Aerial photograph of Queenstown. Photo by ODT.
The residential property market in Queenstown finished strongly in 2012 amid promising signs for this year.

One hundred and sixty houses were sold in the fourth quarter of last year, up 50% on 2011, while section sales more than doubled, from 23 to 52.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) Queenstown spokesman Kelvin Collins said the demand was at levels not experienced since 2007.

Agents believed the momentum would continue over the summer, he said.

Nationally, sales volumes were strong and the national median house price reached a record $389,000 in December, up almost 10% on December 2011.

Key reasons were growth in Canterbury and Auckland, where housing shortages had pushed prices up.

Mr Collins said prices at the lower end of the market in Queenstown were showing signs of firming but were still below the peaks of 2007-08. This indicated the possibility of room for growth, he said. There was little ''spec'' house building yet.

Winter sales had been quiet because of the economic problems in Europe. But people were now saying things looked better and, with fair value, the time had come to buy.

Queenstown figures cover the Wakatipu basin.

Sales volumes in the rest of the Central Otago Lakes region, which includes Wanaka, have not been so buoyant.

Eight regions recorded sales volume increases on December a year ago, with Northland volumes up 37.2%, Auckland 18.7% and Central Otago Lakes 18.4%, according to REINZ figures.

During 2012, 1266 homes were sold in the Central Otago Lakes region, up 28.7% on 2011 volumes.

Median prices across the rest of Otago increased slightly (1%) comparing December last year and 2011, with a noticeable drop in North Otago. Sales volumes fell nearly 5%, with rises in North and South Otago unable to offset a fall in Dunedin.