House prices up, sales down at beginning of COVID-19 lockdown

House prices went up in March for the fourth month in a row but the number of properties sold fell.

The Real Estate Institute house price index, which measures the changing value of property in the market, rose 9.3 percent on the year earlier to another record high.

The national median house price rose a seasonally adjusted 14.2 percent to $665,000 over the year earlier.

The number of properties sold fell 6 percent to the lowest level for a March month in nine years, with just 6866 sales - 347 fewer than the year before.

"Based on what happened in February we would have expected a much better result in March and this is likely the impact of the lockdown week on sales volumes," REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said.

The total number of properties available for sale nationally decreased by 26.7 percent last month over the year before to the lowest level since records began in 2007.

Though people can still list their homes for sale, prospective buyers can only look at the property online.

"How big the effects of Covid-19 are is up for debate, but the impact will depend on a huge number of factors including how long the country is in level 4 lockdown, the level of unemployment, consumer and business confidence levels, people's ability to access finance and how long the wider economy takes to recover."