Property listings scarce

Home buyers had little to choose from last month as new property listings nationally hit a record low.

The Property Report, put together by the website found that during December, only 8482 houses were placed on the market, dropping 37 per cent on the previous month, which saw 13,571 'for sale' signs put up.

Asking prices also dropped from the previous months, with the average asking price $422,636, down 5.3 per cent from $446,277.

Of the main centres, Auckland and Christchurch reported a fall in the asking price last month, but Wellington reported a rise.

A new record high average asking price was seen in Southland, rising by 3.6 per cent to $264,028.

ASB Senior economist Jane Turner said housing market activity was often disrupted over the Christmas and New Year break, and she urged caution in interpreting the estimates, "particularly given the relatively small history of the data set".

"Nonetheless, the results suggest the housing market has potentially tightened further in December, with supply failing to respond to the increase in demand over 2012.

"Ongoing tightness in the housing market will continue to place upward pressure on house prices."

In light of the weaker economic growth figures, Ms Turner expected the Reserve Bank (RBNZ) would keep the Official Cash Rate on hold until December - previously September.

"However, we believe the RBNZ will not be able to tolerate the momentum in house prices and credit growth for much longer, as it poses a risk to both monetary and financial stability objectives.

"There is a growing possibility that the RBNZ will opt to use macro-prudential tools at some point in 2013 in order to ease pressure in the housing market."

Regional average asking prices:

* Northland: $366,584 -14.4 per cent
* Auckland: $588,088 -1.5 per cent
* Coromandel: $431,922 -1.5 per cent
* Bay of Plenty: $415,544 - 0.5 per cent
* Waikato: $377,233 +4.4 per cent
* Central North Island $332,649 -9.9 per cent
* Gisborne $335,905 +33.9 per cent
* Taranaki $281,856 -6.3 per cent
* Hawkes Bay $358,908 +14.9 per cent
* Manawatu/Wanganui $270,664 -2.6 per cent
* Wairarapa $301,790 +18.7 per cent
* Wellington $434,843 +0.8 per cent
* Nelson $451,517 -2.0 per cent
* Marlborough $362,071 -8.7 per cent
* West Coast $277,538 -7.2 per cent
* Canterbury $389,273 -4.1 per cent
* Central Otago/Lakes $515,859 -12.8 per cent
* Otago $277,733 -0.4 per cent
* Southland $264,028 +3.6 per cent


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