New Zealand house sales dropped 10 per cent in March from a year earlier as the Reserve Bank’s restrictions on low-equity mortgages continue to weigh on sales of cheaper property.
The number of houses sold by real estate agents fell to 7,315 in March from 8,128 a year earlier, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.
The national median sale price rose 10 per cent to a record $440,000, and was up $25,000 from February.
“Despite the easing trend in volumes, the median price continues to reach new highs, however this may be due to the dominance of Auckland and Canterbury in the sales data and a noticeable shift in sales towards high value properties,” chief executive Helen O’Sullivan said.
The number of properties sold below $400,000 slumped 21 per cent to 3,155, accounting for about 43.1 per cent of all turnover compared to 49.7 per cent a year earlier.
The volume of sales of houses between $400,000 and $600,000 fell 8 per cent, while housing turnover between $600,000 and $1 million gained 9.4 per cent to 1,616 and $1 million plus properties climbed 21 per cent to 597.
The top two brackets of higher value properties made up about 30.3 per cent of turnover, compared to 24.3 per cent a year earlier.
House sale volumes have slowed since October last year when the Reserve Bank of New Zealand imposed restrictions on the level of mortgage lending banks could make on a deposit of less than 20 per cent.
Southland and Central Otago Lakes were the only regions of the 12 surveyed to report an increase in sales.
Auckland sales fell 9.6 per cent to 3,036 in March, while the median sale price climbed 13 per cent to $637,000. Canterbury/Westland sales fell 4.3 per cent to 948, with a 12 per cent increase in prices to $401,000.
The average number of days to sell slowed two days to 33 in March from a year earlier, though was eight days faster than in February.