The number of property sales across New Zealand slumped 10 per cent in December from a year earlier but prices continued to lift, according to the Real Estate Institute.

A total of 5903 properties were sold across the country in December, down from 6567 in December last year.

Auckland volumes fell 6.4 per cent on the year to 1693. Nelson was the only one of 16 regions to see an increase year-on-year with 76 sales compared with 71 sales a year earlier.

“December represented a continuation of the theme we have seen throughout 2017, whereby the number of properties sold across New Zealand decreased every month when compared with the same month in 2016,” REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said.

New Zealand’s overheated housing market has slowed as Reserve Bank restrictions on more highly-leveraged mortgage lending and tighter credit criteria being demanded by banks made it more difficult for borrowers.

Housing market sentiment had also been weighed by new government policies to restrict the sale of homes to foreign investors.

The median number of days it took to sell a property increased to 32 from 31 in December 2016, while the number of auctions – which is generally an indicator of a heated housing market – made up 14 per cent of all properties sold, down from 18 per cent in the same month a year earlier.

“As there appears to be less urgency for buyers to purchase a property, as well as for vendors to sell their property, we’ve seen sales count drop and the days to sell increase during 2017,” Ms Norwell said.

“However, as vendors have been holding steadfast to their pricing expectations, we’ve still seen the price of properties going up, which is reflected here in the increased HPI.”

The median house sale price lifted 5.8 per cent to $550,000.

Excluding Auckland, the median price rose 6.6 per cent to $450,000, while Auckland’s median price rose 1.8 per cent to $870,000, compared to December 2016.

Three regions – Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Wellington – saw record prices.


By Rebecca Howard