Low February property sales show emerging buyers' market - Barfoot & Thompson

Recent sales data has Barfoot & Thompson suggesting Auckland's property market is becoming a buyers' market, but a top economist says it isn't there just yet.

On Monday, the property company announced its February sale numbers were the lowest for a month since December 2008 at the high point of the global financial crisis.

There were 474 sales for the company in February, which Barfoot & Thompson manager director Peter Thompson said showed the market was failing to gain momentum.

"In the first two months of the year, sales numbers at 1,127 are down 10.4 percent on what they were for the first two months of last year," he said.

"While sales activity was limited it had only a minimal impact on the average sales price which, at $918,496, was down less than $9,000 (0.9 percent) on that for January and $1,000 (0.1 percent) less than that for February 2018."

The change in median price to $801,000 was greater, being down $26,500 or 3.2 percent from January. The median is also down $19,000 or 2.3 percent from February last year.

"The market is progressively hardening into a buyers' market with a number of vendors preferring to take their property off the market when they cannot achieve their asking price."

But former ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie told The AM Show on Tuesday that it isn't time to call it a buyers' market just yet.

"Buyers' market I think is a little bit of a stretch. If you are a buyer out there and you are still trying to buy your first home, and the first home is trading about nine times income, it is kinda hard to characterise it as a buyers' market," he said.

"Your prices are starting to come back, and I think that has been a good, healthy adjustment so far. But to say it is a buyers' market, a bit of a stretch, but it is moving in the buyers' favour".

Barfoot & Thompson also confirmed that sale by auction was the most common sales method, with two thirds of auctions resulting in sales.

In February, a ASB Housing Confidence Survey found that, for the first time in more than five years, more respondents thought it was a good time to buy than a bad time.