The latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data on median house prices indicates the opportunity to buy a property for under $600,000 is slipping away.
According to REINZ, the nationwide median house price increased by 11.8 percent in January to $615,000 - up from $550,000 in January 2019 but below the median of $630,000 in November.
The data shows that prices in seven regions grew by over 8 percent compared to January last year and REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said that four regions now command prices of $600,000-plus.
"This time last year, only the Auckland region had a median price over the $600,000 mark.
"Now, the Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Tasman and Nelson regions all have median prices at or over that figure," Norwell said.
With a January median house price of $599,000, property in the Waikato is not far behind.
Auckland's median house price ahead of January 2019, down on November
Auckland's median house price in January was $875,000, up 8.7 percent compared to $805,000 in January 2019.
In the last quarter of 2019, REINZ data showed tentative signs of growth for New Zealand's biggest city, however last month's data indicates a slight decline from November's median price of $885,000.
"These results are in line with the REINZ House Price Index (HPI), which saw property values in Auckland increase 4.4 percent annually," Norwell said.
In Auckland city, January's median house price was $935,000 and 337 were sold, taking a median number of 47 days.
"North Shore City has the highest median price for residential property at $1,101,000, followed by Auckland City on $935,000 and Rodney District with a median of $927,000.
"Waitakere City saw a record median of $830,000," Norwell said.
Wellington median shows slight increase in affordability
January's median house prices were $755,000 for Wellington City, $620,000 for Upper and Lower Hutt and $807,000 for Porirua.
"Prices in the Capital city have been more mixed with Wellington City, at a median price of $755,000: the most affordable it's been in seven months, yet record median prices were [recorded] in Porirua and Upper Hutt cities," Norwell said.
Record prices in seven regions
The median house price for New Zealand, excluding Auckland, was $525,000 in January, up 11.7 percent compared to January 2019.
"January saw 16 regions with annual increases in the median house price and seven regions with record median prices," Norwell confirmed.
REINZ reports record median house price growth year-on-year for the following regions:
- Southland: $359,000, up 28.7 percent from $279,000
- Manawatu/Wanganui: $411,000, up 24.5 percent from $330,000
- Hawkes Bay: $550,000, up 22.2 percent from $450,000
- Otago: $570,000, up 19.9 percent from $475,475
- Bay of Plenty: $683,000, up 17.8 percent from $580,000
- Taranaki: $420,000, up 9.1 percent from $385,000
- Waikato: $599,000, up 8.9 percent from $550,000.
The median house price in Canterbury was $465,000 (in line with October) and both Southland and Manawatu have experienced strong growth in recent months.
"The Manawatu/Whanganui region has had a record median price in seven of the last eight months, Southland has [experienced the same] in six of the last seven months and [in] Hawkes Bay, five of the last six months [showed] a record median price.
"Queenstown Lakes had a strong start to the year, with a median house price of $1,055,000 - the first time in six months the median price has exceeded the million-dollar mark," Norwell said.
Sales volumes up in Auckland, Nelson, Manawatu/Whanganui, Bay of Plenty and Marlborough
The number of residential properties sold across New Zealand in January was 4603 - 144 more compared to January 2019, representing the busiest January in four years.
In Auckland,1295 properties sold in January, up 9.7 percent year-on-year - the highest number sold for the month of January since 2016.
Regions outside Auckland with the highest percentage increase in number of homes sold year-on-year were:
- Nelson: 77 houses, up 42.6 percent from 54
- Manawatu/Whanganui: 324 houses, up 15.3 percent from 281
- Bay of Plenty: 379 houses, up 11.5 percent from 340
- Marlborough: 69 houses, up 11.3 percent from 62.
Regions with the highest drop in the number of homes sold year-on-year were:
- Tasman: 41 houses, down 29.3 percent from 58
- Southland: 110 houses, down 27.2 percent from 151
- Otago: 223 houses, down 17.1 percent from 269.
Number of days to sell and auctions
Last month, the median number of days to sell a house nationwide was 42 days, down from 48 in January 2019.
In Auckland, the median number of days to sell was 43 days and Gisborne was the lowest, taking a median of 27 days.
Northland had the highest days to sell of any region, at 55 days.
Auctions were used in 6.8 percent of sales across the country, with 312 sold under the hammer in January.
With 2020 well underway, an increase in the number of homes sold indicates that prospective buyers should brace themselves for a busy market.
With no clear signs that Auckland prices are back on the boil and a subdued month for Wellington, house-hunters in the two largest cities may enjoy some respite, while those in regions such as Manawatu and Hawkes Bay may need to check their budget.