New Zealand residential property prices slipped in May, after three straight monthly gains, while the volume of sales held up in a market suffering from "an acute shortage of houses," according to the Real Estate Institute (REINZ).
The median price for homes across the country fell to $337,500 last month, down from $340,000 in April, the institute said in a statement. The length of time taken to sell a house last month was 42 days, unchanged from April. The total number of properties sold edged up to 6,291 from 6,210 in April and up from 4,372 in May 2008.
"With an apparent reluctance to sell in what is perceived as a buyers' market, people are tending to hunker down and sit tight on their properties," REINZ president Mike Elford said. "This combined with a seasonal trend for people to hibernate rather than put their home on the market in the winter months, has led to an acute shortage of houses on the market," he said.
Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard today cited a potential rebound in the housing market among factors that prompted him to keep the official cash rate unchanged at 2.5%, though he qualified the assessment by saying the weak jobs market and high levels of household debt may limit any revival.
QV Valuations data this week showed property values continued to stabilize last month, helped by cheaper mortgage rates. House values fell 8.1% in the 12 months ended May 31, compared to a 9.2% decline in the period through April, according to QV.
The median house price in Auckland climbed to $450,000 in May from $435,00 the previous month, according to today's REINZ report, with 2,114 houses sold, up from 2,081 in April. In Waikato/Bay of Plenty/Gisborne the median price edged down to $312,000 from $315,000.Hawkes Bay recorded little changed volumes in the latest month at 230 houses, while the median price slipped to $259,750 from $270,000.
In Taranaki, prices eased to $261,000 from $270,000, with 197 houses sold, up from 188.Manawatu/Wanganui's median price was unchanged at $220,000, with the volume little changed at 324. Wellington's median price rose to $380,000 from $367,500 in April, with sales falling to 673 from 691.
In Nelson and Marlborough, the median price rose to $330,250 from $312,000 and 252 houses sold, up from 241. Canterbury/Westland marked a decline in houses sold to 955 from 965, while the median price fell to $285,000 from $295,000. In Central Otago Lakes, which includes Queenstown, sales slipped to 84 from 95 in April while the median price rose to $427,500 from $400,000.
Otago sales were 215, down from 226, with the median price easing to $220,000 from $221,250. In Southland, sales jumped to 173 from 151 in April, while the media price fell to $180,000 from $190,000.
To find out what's happening in your region take a look at the REINZ residential highlights - May 2009