House sales drop dramatically, but prices keep rising

Photo: RNZ
Photo: RNZ
House sales in Canterbury and New Zealand may be well down on the same period last year, but prices continue to rise.

Just 3990 homes sold across the country in May. That's 47 per cent down on the same month in 2019, the Real Estate Institute's latest monthly sales data showed.

The sales count in Canterbury dropped by a massive 43.7 per cent in May compared to May last year. However, the May sales count was up by 166.4 per cent compared to April 2020 due to the lockdown.

The median house price in Canterbury has climbed to $460.000 in May, up 3.4 per cent on last year. And New Zealand's median sales price hit $620,000 in May - up 6.9 per cent on the $580,000 median sales price in May 2019.

Image: REINZ / NZ Herald
Image: REINZ / NZ Herald
Real Estate Institute chief executive Bindi Norwell said that even though sales volumes had fallen off a cliff compared to last year, this was not surprising because May had 12 days of level 3 restrictions.

"These restrictions meant only two property viewings, per property, per day were allowed, making it difficult to get interested parties through a property in a timely and efficient manner," she said.

Norwell said on the whole the market was starting to show volatility due to some unexpected results across the country, but it was holding up better than expected.

"Median house prices in May were slightly more reflective of what we would expect to see as a result of a global pandemic, in that there was some volatility in prices with five regions seeing prices fall from April to May," she said.

"But what continues to surprise us, is the fact that there are still regions with increases in median price and that there are still regions experiencing record median prices - a far cry from some of the doom and gloom predictions that were immediately touted when Covid-19 first hit the country."

Credit: REINZ
Credit: REINZ
Even in Auckland there was volatility. The Auckland City, North Shore, Papakura and Waitakere districts all had falls in price, while the three remaining districts - Franklin, Manukau City and Rodney - all experienced jumps.

"While it still may be too early for the full impact of price declines to be showing through, the reality is that the majority of regions in New Zealand [11 out of 16] saw median price increases from April to May," Norwell said.

"All bar one region [Gisborne] saw annual increases in price - likely a continuing effect of demand for good properties outstripping supply."

Credit: REINZ
Credit: REINZ

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