South escapes worst of property bubble

Three southern regions are escaping the worst of the country's property bubble although Queenstown, by itself, is still showing growth in median price and remains slightly ahead of metropolitan Auckland.

Real Estate Institute figures released yesterday, showed the Queenstown median price was $566,000, slightly ahead of metropolitan Auckland's $565,000.

However, Central Otago Lakes showed an overall fall in median price to $422,500 in April, from $475,000 in March and $470,000 in April last year. The Central Otago component fell in price to $378,500 from $389,000 in March and $399,000 in April last year.

In Otago, the median price fell 1% to $245,000 from $247,500 in March, but was up 2% from April last year.

The Dunedin median price fell nearly 2% to $260,000 in April compared with March; the North Otago price was down slightly at $195,750 and South Otago was slightly up at $160,750.

In Southland, the median price was down 6.5% to $194,000 in April from $207,500 in March. Invercargill's price fell 5.2% to $194,250 and Gore's price fell nearly 14% to $164,000.

Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said Southland was being affected by uncertainty over the Tiwai aluminium smelter.

''Listings remain in good supply with both first-home buyers and investors taking a cautious approach ... Overall, the trend for the region is now easing,'' she said.

Nationally, the volume of residential sales in April reached the highest level in six years with sales up more than 25% on April 2012, to 7104.

Ms O'Sullivan said April was notable for the surge in prices and sales of mid-level homes in many parts of the country, which was reflected in a new high for the institute's Stratified Price Index and records for the index in Wellington and other South Island districts.

Price levels in Auckland and Canterbury continued to have a major impact on the national picture, with Auckland recording the second largest increase in median price compared with April last year and Canterbury the third largest increase in median price.

Together, Auckland and Canterbury accounted for 92% of the increase in national median price over the past 12 months, she said.

The figures showed Auckland's median price was up 13.3% to $555,000 from April last year and Canterbury-Westland was up 10% at $353,000.

All but one region recorded increases in sales volume compared with April last year, with Manawatu-Wanganui recording an increase of 36.5%.

Four regions recorded an increase in sales volume in April compared with March, with Central Otago Lakes recording an increase of 11.3%, Manawatu-Wanganui 2% and Southland an increase of 0.7%.

Central Otago Lakes recorded the longest number of days to sell at 57, up slightly from its 10-year average of 55 days. Over the past 10 years, the median number of days to sell for the month of April has averaged 36 across New Zealand. In Otago, it took 36 days to sell in April, up one day from the region's 10-year average. The Southland average went up to 47 days in April, up on its 10-year average of 35 days.


April figures

• National median price down 2.4% to $390,500

• Central Otago Lakes region had largest fall in median price, down 10.1%

• New Zealand sales up 25% to 7104

• Total residential sales for month were worth $3.5 billion


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