Nationally, house listings eased in February

House listings eased last month on a seasonally adjusted basis, the New Zealand Property report shows.

ASB economist Daniel Smith said the rise in the number of homes going on to the market seen around the middle of last year seemed to have been short-lived.

In particular, new listings in Auckland had dropped off ''quite significantly'' since the introduction of the Reserve Bank's loan-to-value lending restrictions. In the five months since the restrictions came into effect, new listings in Auckland were down 4% compared with the previous five months, despite a surge in listings in October, the first month after implementation.

''While the restrictions have marginally dented demand, they may also have scared off potential sellers.''

The figures released by showed Otago listings down 26% in February from January, the second-largest fall in the country after Coromandel, which had a 29% fall in listings.

Canterbury had a 3% lift in listings, Southland was down 15%, Central Otago-Lakes was down nearly 7% and the West Coast was up 22%.

Nationally, asking prices reached a record in February of $483,099, but again Otago showed a fall. Otago's asking price was down 4% to $292,816, compared with January. Canterbury was up 1% to $444,227, Southland was up 7.3% to $247,378, Central Otago-Lakes was up nearly 8% to $666,845 and the West Coast up 7.7% to $320,245.

The report commented seller confidence had driven asking prices of new listings to record levels in February. The rise in asking price was noticeable across more than half of New Zealand, with 11 regions reporting a rise in asking price.

Nationally, the level of unsold houses on the market at the end of February (41,731) was up when compared with January.

''The market remains firmly a seller's market and inventory on the market remains well below the long-term average of 37 weeks of equivalent sales,'' said.

The fall in inventory during the past month was seen in 14 of the 19 New Zealand regions, with record levels of 44 weeks of stock seen in Central Otago-Lakes, well below the long-term average of 91 weeks.

In Otago, inventory, as measured in terms of equivalent weeks of sales, fell in February to 25 weeks compared with the long-term average of 27. In Canterbury, inventory was 16 weeks compared with

38, and in Southland it was 46 weeks compared with 34. Mr Smith said the general rise in listings seen around the middle of last year seemed to ease, or at least stabilise, some pressures in the housing market.

At a glance
• New listings down in Otago, Southland and Central Otago-Lakes but rise in Canterbury and the West Coast.
• Asking prices fall in Canterbury and Otago but rise in Southland, Central Otago-Lakes and the West Coast.
• National asking price reaches a high of $483,099.


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