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REINZ Monthly Report – March 2020

By Julie Halligan

Latest REINZ stats show NZ house price increase largest in 53 months

Median house prices across New Zealand increased by 14.3% in February to a new record median

price of $640,000, up from $560,000 in February 2019. This was the largest percentage increase in

53 months according to the latest data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ), source

of the most complete and accurate real estate data in New Zealand.

Additionally, seven regions saw new record median prices.

Median house prices for New Zealand excluding Auckland increased by 11.8% to a new record

median of $550,000, up from $492,000 in February last year.

In Auckland, median house prices increased by 4.3% to $888,000 – up from $851,000 at the same

time last year – the highest price in 35 months.

Record median prices were recorded in:

  • Northland with an 11.9% increase to $560,000 up from $500,500 at the same time last year
  • Gisborne with a 15.4% increase to $450,000 up from $390,000 at the same time last year
  • Manawatu/Wanganui with a 22.8% increase to $425,000 up from $346,000 at the same time last year
  • Wellington with a 10.8% increase to $716,000 up from $646,000 at the same time last year
  • Tasman with a 13.7% increase to $665,000 up from $585,000 at the same time last year
  • Marlborough with a 21.2% increase to $531,250 up from $438,500 at the same time last year
  • Canterbury with a 4.2% increase to $474,000 up from $455,000 at the same time last year.

Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ says: “February was a very buoyant month from a price

perspective with median price rises the largest the country has seen in 53 months and record

median prices for New Zealand, New Zealand excluding Auckland and 7 regions around the country.

“For two months in a row now we’ve seen every region in the country experience annual median

price increases, showing a continuation of the price growth we started to see just before Christmas.

With strong demand across the country it’s highly likely we’ll see these price rises continue in March

unless the economy takes a sudden hit from COVID-19,” she continues.

“We will obviously be keeping a close eye on any impacts on the housing market as a result of

COVID-19 and it will be interesting to see what decision the Reserve Bank makes on 25 March in

terms of the OCR,” continues Norwell.

“With a record median price of $716,000 the Wellington region broke through the $700,000 mark

for the first time in February. This was partly a result of record median prices seen in Lower Hutt City

($660,000), Carterton District ($550,000), Masterton District ($500,000) and Upper Hutt City

($643,000), but also a result of demand for good properties outstripping supply,” she continues.

“Looking at the Auckland market, the region overall had the highest median price in 35 months at

$888,000 and North Shore City saw a record median price of $1,155,000. Waitakere City had a

record equal median price of $830,000 – the exact same price as last month reflecting that

combination of an uplift in confidence and low interest rates,” continues Norwell.

Highest number of properties sold in month of February for 4 years

The number of properties sold in February across New Zealand increased by 9.2% from the same

time last year (from 6,132 to 6,694) making it the highest number of properties sold in the month of

February in 4 years.

For New Zealand excluding Auckland, the number of properties sold decreased by a marginal -0.3%

when compared to the same time last year (from 4,742 to 4,726) – 16 fewer properties.

In Auckland, the number of properties sold in February increased by 41.6% year-on-year (from 1,390

to 1,968) – the highest number of residential properties sold in the month of February in 5 years.

Regions outside Auckland with the highest percentage increase in annual sales volumes during

January were:

  • Gisborne: +35.7% (from to 56 to 76 – 20 more houses) – the strongest February in 15 years
  • Tasman: +17.5% (from 63 to 74 – 11 more houses) – the highest for the month of February in 3 years
  • Hawke’s Bay: +11.9% (from 235 to 263 – 28 more houses) – the highest for the month of February in 4 years
  • Bay of Plenty: +11.7% (from 453 to 506 – 53 more houses) – the highest for the month of February in 4 years.
  • Regions with the largest decrease in annual sales volumes during February were:
  • Nelson: -24.2% (from 99 to 75 – 24 fewer houses) – the lowest for the month of February in 6 years
  • Taranaki: -20.7% (from 193 to 153 – 40 fewer houses) – the lowest for the month of February in 5 years
  • Southland: -17.9% (from 184 to 151 – 33 fewer houses) – the lowest for the month of February in 5 years
  • West Coast: -13.0% (from 46 to 40 – 6 fewer houses) – the lowest for the month of February in 3 years.

“February saw mixed results across the country in terms of sales volumes, with some regions seeing

their busiest February in a number of years and some seeing their quietest February in a number of

years. However, overall, the number of sales was up a solid 9.2% annually.

“With new listings still remaining critically low it’s not surprising that we’ve seen such a mixed result

across the country in February in terms of the number of properties sold. This is only the second

time since records began that we’ve seen fewer than 11,000 new listings come to the market during

February when some years have seen as many as 18,000 new listings come to the market at this

time of the year. This outlines just how low listings are,” says Norwell.

“The Auckland market saw the biggest annual increase in sales volumes in 88 months with a 41.6%

increase in the number of properties sold when compared to the same time last year. All seven

districts in Auckland saw double-digit annual increases in sales volumes, the largest of which was

Papakura District with an 83.6% annual increase,” she points out.

“The overall uplift in sales volumes is a result of that underlying confidence that has been around for

a few months now coupled with strong economic fundamentals. It’s too soon to see any effects from

COVID-19 on sales volumes, however, this is something we’ll be keeping a close eye on over the

coming months,” she continues.

REINZ House Price Index (HPI) reaches new record highs for every region in February

The REINZ House Price Index for New Zealand, which measures the changing value of property in the

market, increased 8.7% year-on-year to 3,013 – a new record high.

The HPI for New Zealand excluding Auckland increased 10.2% from February 2019 to 2,995 another

new record high.

The Auckland HPI increased by 6.9% year-on-year to 3,035 – the highest annual percentage increase

in 35 months and the first time the Auckland region crossed the 3,000 mark.

In February, Southland had the highest annual growth rate with a 22.9% increase to 3,435 a new

record high. In second place was Manawatu/Wanganui with an annual growth of 21.5% to a new

record high of 3,582 and again in third place was Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay with a 14.8% annual

increase to a new record high of 3,163.

“This is the first time in 13 years, or 156 months, that we’ve had a new high for every region with the

REINZ HPI, showing that it’s not just that prices are increasing, but that the underlying value of the

market is lifting,” points out Norwell.

“February saw New Zealand and four regions (Bay of Plenty, Auckland, Northland and Wellington)

cross the 3,000 mark for the first time meaning that the underlying value of properties in these areas has increased by more than 200% since 2003,” she continues.

Days to Sell lowest for month of February in 13 years

In February the median number of days to sell a property nationally decreased by 12 days from 47 to 35 when compared to February 2019 – the lowest days to sell for the month of February in 13 years.

For New Zealand excluding Auckland, the median days to sell decreased by 9 days from 43 to 34 – the lowest days to sell for the month of February in 15 years. Auckland saw the median number of days to sell a property fall by 17 days from 56 to 39 year-on-year – the lowest days to sell for the month of February in 4 years.

Manawatu/Wanganui had the lowest days to sell of all regions at 24 days – one of only four regions in the country below the 30 mark and 5 days fewer than the same time last year. It was also the lowest median number of days to sell for the month of February ever for the Manawatu/Wanganui region.

Northland again had the highest days to sell of any region at 60 days, down 5 days on February 2019, and up 5 days on January’s figure of 55. West Coast had the second highest median days to sell across the country at 54 days, although this was down 37 days on the same time last year and was the lowest for the month of February for 14 years and was the second to lowest median days to sell on record.

“Every region in the country saw a fall in the median number of days to sell a property – the first time we’ve seen this in 126 months – since August 2009. Additionally, to have a decrease in the median days to sell at a national level of 12 days is pretty significant,” says Norwell.

“What’s really interesting though, is the Taranaki region. It is the only region in the country to have a median number of days to sell of less than 30 days for 5 months in a row. No other region has seen such a sustained period of fast sales over the last 5 months,” continues Norwell.

Auctions

Auctions were used in 16.8% of all sales across the country in February, with 1,123 properties selling under the hammer – up from the same time last year, when 11.0% of properties (674) were sold via auction. This was the highest percentage of auctions in 27 months – since November 2017.

Gisborne had the highest percentage of sales by auction across the country with 77.6% (or 59 properties) in the region sold under the hammer – up from 55.4% (31 properties) in February 2019. This is the highest percentage of auctions for the Gisborne region since records began*.

Auckland had the second highest percentage of auctions in the country with 32.4% (637 properties) sold under the hammer, up from 21.4% (298 properties) in February 2019 – the highest percentage of auctions for Auckland in 27 months.

Bay of Plenty saw the third largest percentage of sales by auction with 19.2% (97 properties) sold under the hammer up from 13.0% in February 2019 (59 properties).

“Following a busy January, auction rooms continued to be busy throughout February reflecting that increasing level of confidence we’ve seen for a few months now. This was also reflected in strong clearance rates,” concludes Norwell.

Inventory

The total number of properties available for sale nationally decreased by -22.3% in February to 20,875 down from 26,850 in February 2019 – a decrease of 5,975 properties compared to 12 months ago and the lowest level of inventory for the month of February ever. However, this was an uplift on January’s figure of 19,488.

Regions with the largest percentage decrease in total inventory levels were:

  • Taranaki: -42.7% from 694 to 398 – 296 fewer properties
  • Marlborough: -35.8% from 369 to 237 – 132 fewer properties
  • West Coast: -27.5% from 440 to 319 – 121 fewer properties
  • Canterbury: -24.7% from 3,973 to 2,992 – 981 fewer properties.

Manawatu/Wanganui had the lowest number of weeks’ inventory with 9 weeks inventory available to prospective purchasers, down on last year’s figure of 11 weeks. This was followed by Hawke’s Bay with 10 weeks’ inventory. Wellington and Bay of Plenty came in third equal with 12 weeks’ inventory available to prospective purchasers.

Northland had the highest number of week’s inventory with 53 weeks’ inventory available to prospective purchasers. West Coast followed closely behind with 51 weeks’ inventory available.

Price Bands

The number of homes sold for less than $500,000 across New Zealand fell from 41.4% of the market (2,540 properties) in February 2019 to 30.1% of the market (2,018 properties) in February 2020. This is the lowest percentage of sales sold for below the $500,000 mark ever.

The number of properties sold in the $500,000 to $750,000 bracket increased from 30.6% in February 2019 (1,874 properties) to 33.1% in February 2020 (2,213 properties).

At the top end of the market, the percentage of properties sold for $1 million or more increased from 12.6% (772 properties) in February 2019 to 17.1% (1,148 properties) in February 2020.

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