New Zealand house sales have fallen as a lack of listings compounded the chilling effects of rising interest rates and mortgage loan restrictions.

The number of houses sold fell 16 per cent to 5,481 in August from the same month a year earlier, and were down seven per cent from July, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures.

The national median sale price was $420,000 in August, up from $390,000 a year earlier, and $416,000 in July.

“While LVR (loan-to-value ratio) restrictions are still cited as being a significant factor, lack of listings continues to be an issue in most parts of the country, with low stock levels restricting buyer choice,” REINZ chief executive Helen O’Sullivan said in a statement.

“All eyes are on listing numbers which would normally be increasing at this time of year, but which may be impacted by the timing of the general election.”

Friday’s REINZ figures showed the number of sales below $400,000, the prime target in the Reserve Bank’s restrictions on low equity home lending, fell 25 per cent to 2,523 in August from the same month in 2013, accounting for about 46 per cent of all turnover. That’s down from 51 per cent a year earlier.

The number of days to sell rose one day to 38 days from July, and was four days longer than August 2013.

The stratified median housing price index, a measure developed to smooth out peaks and troughs in the market, rose 1.1 per cent from July, and was up 4.8 per cent on an annual basis.

In Auckland, prices rose 0.4 per cent in the month for a 5.8 per cent annual increase based on the index measure, while Wellington prices climbed 5.5 per cent in August, for a 2.8 per cent gain on the year.

Christchurch prices fell 0.8 per cent in August, and were up 11 per cent over the past 12 months.