People are holding off selling houses and are asking more for them if they do.
That means the traditional lift in housing market activity during September failed to eventuate, says realestate.co.nz spokeswoman Vanessa Taylor.
New property listings across the country are down by 12.2 percent on the same time the previous year, and the total housing stock is down by 23 percent.
"Traditional seasonal behaviour is diminishing as sellers appear to be more focused on selling at a premium, particularly in markets like Auckland, while buyers are considering all their options and properties are now taking a longer time to turn over," Ms Taylor says.
Auckland was the only region in the country where total housing stock levels increased, by 4 percent, but new property listings in September were 17.8 percent lower than the same month in 2015.
Auckland asking prices hit another all-time high at $933,435, up 2.8 percent on the previous month.
"With fewer new listings coming onto the market, it appears that sellers are looking to command higher prices," says Ms Taylor.
The attitude of buyers has also shifted from a "must buy now mentality at all cost" to a more considered view of options.
Waikato's total housing stock level plunged 31.9 percent compared to the same month last year.
"Aucklanders have been active in the Waikato region for quite some time and have perhaps absorbed the first round of property offered by Waikato sellers who capitalised on the demand."
New property listings coming onto the market in September in Waikato fell by 20.1 percent compared to the same time last year.
Asking prices lifted by 3 percent on the previous month.
In Wellington new property listings fell 8.1 percent in September compared to the same time last year.
Property asking prices in Wellington rose 1.4 percent compared with the prior month.
Property asking prices and new listings fell in Canterbury and Otago.