Housing market slumps around New Zealand

The number of houses being sold has dropped a whopping 20 percent compared to this time last year - and it's also not just in Auckland - the slump is happening all over the country.

Southland led the way down, 37 percent. Northland is down almost 30 percent, and Taranaki and Waikato both down 25 percent. Sales in our biggest market, Auckland, are also off by 21 percent.

Figures show 47 fewer houses are being sold every day, and some experts have gone as far as suggesting real estate agents start looking for a second job.

Why such a drop?

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) blames ongoing Reserve Bank lending restrictions, winter and election uncertainty.

"People take a wait and see approach in terms of policies and how it will potentially impact them personally," says a REINZ spokesperson.

Nationally prices have held up in the past year, and while Auckland is off the boil - down 1.2 percent - the regions led by Southland and Hawke's Bay have risen because of the urban exodus.

The question is what happens now?

There's a less sunny forecast from one economist.

BNZ Bank's Tony Alexander believes sales volumes will continue to fall so he has a message for real estate agents.

"Maybe for some of them - start looking for alternative job in the next few years," he says.

And are we going to see prices fall?

"It's impossible to predict but this is a flattening initially in Auckland, then in fits and starts around the rest of the country," he says.

But that could bring with it one bit of good news for first home buyers. In some parts of Auckland investors may have overcommitted and finally there could be a chance to get into the market.