Fewer homes to pick from for would-be buyers

The latest housing figures show a market struggling to get off its feet. 

Five regions hit record asking price highs, but listings dropped 17 percent compared to this time last year. In Auckland pickings were even slimmer, with listings down 20 percent.

But Vanessa Taylor from Realestate.co.nz says there is no need to panic.

"It is pretty cyclical, but this year we are seeing a real cooldown, and New Zealanders are perhaps sitting on their properties and looking for other areas to invest in, or other choices."

The only region which saw an increase in the number of homes for sale in October was Central Otago/Lakes, up 9.6 percent. 

Asking prices are at all-time highs in Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Nelson and Bays, Wairarapa and the central North Island. 

Wairarapa led the way with a 15.4 percent increase in the average asking price, up to $571,621, while the others - with the exception of Bay of Plenty - creeped up less than 2 percent.

"It will be interesting to see if this is the beginning of a new trend, or just an isolated spike," said Taylor.

Most looking at buying in Wairarapa are from Auckland and Wellington.

"It could be that people from bigger cities have built up equity in their current homes and are keen to capitalise on it by making the food and wine region a place to call home."

She says it is a matter of when, not if, the market in other regions will restimulate, and REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell agrees. 

"With many parts of the country seeing record asking prices and record median selling prices, it's surprising that listings continue to remain at such a low point considering we're well into spring. This means that prices are likely to continue to rise across many parts of the country until we see more supply in the market."

Average asking prices in October 2019.
Average asking prices in October 2019. Photo credit: realestate.co.nz

The average asking price in the Bay of Plenty tipped over $700,000 for the first time, up 9.7 percent.

"Summer is just around the corner so it's unsurprising to see so much interest in the region," said Taylor. "With the weather getting warmer, who wouldn't like a piece of Bay of Plenty paradise to call their own?"

Again, most buyers looking at properties on realestate.co.nz are from Auckland - but largely people between 55 and 64. 

"This suggests that the Bay of Plenty, with its above-average population of people aged 65 and over, is still very much the retiree's dream," said Taylor.

And the opening of a new University of Waikato campus in Tauranga could be pushing prices up too, she said, with investors and/or parents looking to snap up places nearby for students. 

Central Otago/Lakes remains the country's least-affordable region, with the average asking price at $1,006,481, followed by Auckland at $936,850. Th cheapest is West Coast, on $256,402.