Sleepy summer for New Zealand real estate as report shows falling prices and listings

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NZ property market in hibernation

The property market in New Zealand has entered a sleepy, dormant phase according to the latest real estate report to be published.

Fewer new listings are coming on to the market, sales are subdued and while the sales figures show year-on-year growth, they are still lagging behind historical averages, says the monthly report from realestate.co.nz.

Total real estate sales for 2009 were just 69,000, up from the 2008 level of 56,000, but far from levels of around 100,000 that were seen in 2007.

January saw just over 10,000 new listings coming onto the market, the first time in four years that the January figure has been lower than December.

The overall trend of property price expectations as established by the listing price of properties coming onto the market in January was of falling prices. The national truncated mean asking price fell 1.8% from the month of December and 1.8% as compared to the recent three month average.

Of the 19 regions covered by the report only two saw asking price rise; Wairarapa and Central Otago Lakes. The majority of the remainder posted falls of less than 5%, but Central North Island, West Coast and Taranaki all posted falls of more than 5%. Auckland fell 2.5% in the month contributing to a 5% slide since the November level of $543,522.

Normally the start of the year sees an upswing and benefits from summer activity in the market. 2010 though has started with a 2% decline in new listings. However, despite lower listings, the trend is not as might have been expected towards a strong sellers market, the report also says.

The level of inventory of unsold homes on the market rose significantly in January to 40 weeks from the 34 weeks in December. This measure reflects the rate of sales which is running at a slower rate and therefore failing to clear inventory, the report points out.

Supporting this position of a sluggish property market is the measure of asking price expectations which fell for the second month in a row from $412,319 in December to $405,040 in January.

This is a sign of a market where sellers are asking realistic prices so that their property stands out in what is becoming a somewhat crowded market, adds the report.

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