The average asking price for a New Zealand property surpassed $700,000 in December, the first time since realestate.co.nz records began.
Bolstered by rising prices in the regions, the national average asking price last month was $703,780, the highest since realestate.co.nz began recording prices in 2007.
The previous high was recorded in January last year, when the average price was $695,116. Prices then dropped in February before gradually increasing over the rest of the year.
"Despite some peaks and troughs, average asking prices nationally are continuing to rise," spokesperson Vanessa Taylor said.
The rise has been helped by soaring prices in the regions. Bay of Plenty, Nelson & Bays, Southland, Marlborough and Manawata/Whanganui all had record-high average asking prices in December. Manawata/Whanganui, for example, was up 25 percent on December 2018.
"We are seeing substantial year-on-year average asking price increases in a number of regions which, generally, tells us that the value of property is continuing to grow," Taylor said.
"Generally, we look to our main centres to lead what is happening in the market, but last month we saw our regions really driving national trends."
Auckland and the Wairarapa were the only areas to see a decrease in the average asking price since last year. But those drops were only marginal - 1.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
On top of the high national asking price, realestate.co.nz also recorded the lowest number of houses available for sale since it began tracking the figures, as well as the lowest number of new listings. It's the first time the company has recorded three national records in the same month since 2007.
"Low stock, teamed with high asking prices sees us close out the decade as a strong sellers’ market," Taylor said.
In December 2019, there were 24.5 percent fewer homes (18,230) available for sale than the year before. The previous lowest number was 20,682 in July 2016, while the highest was in April 2008 with 58,795.
The trend has been on a downward trajectory since 2008, which realestate.co.nz says may be due to population growth.
"In 2020, the total population of New Zealand is estimated be nearing or exceeding 5,000,000, so we might see this stock shortage continue for some time."
The pressure increases as the number of new listings also drops, with only 5528 properties added to the sale market in December. That's the first time new listings have dropped below 6000.
Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury were among the centres which saw new listings drop dramatically. Taranaki had one of the greatest drops on the year before, with a 26.6 percent decrease.
"New listings were down during most of 2019 so we will be watching to see if there is an influx of new listings in late January and February once people get back into a routine after the summer break," Taylor said.