Coronavirus: New Zealand's July house sales the highest in five years, defying expectations

House sales for July were the highest in five years, due to pent-up demand and interest from first-home buyers, investors and families upgrading their lifestyle.

Data from the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) showed sales volumes soared 25 percent on the same time last year, and excluding Auckland the number sold in a July month was the highest in 15 years.

The REINZ House Price Index for New Zealand, which measures the changing value of property in the market, increased 9.4 percent year-on-year to 3021.

All regions except Gisborne and Marlborough saw a year-on-year double digit percentage increase, with sales on the West Coast up almost 60 percent.

Institute chief executive Bindi Norwell said the numbers continued to defy expectations.

"This was the largest annual percentage increase in sales volumes we've seen for the country since September 2015, highlighting just how confident the market was during July.

"Even though anecdotally we've had a great start to August, the real question now, is how long this can be sustained for? Particularly now Auckland has gone back into level 3."

Other regions with high sales volumes were Tasman at 56 percent, Nelson 42 percent and Waikato at 35 percent.

Sales in Gisborne fell 39 percent which Norwell put down to a low level of listings. Listings nationwide were down sharply and July inventory was the lowest since records began.

"We're still not seeing enough new listings come to the market to meet consumer demand right now. Hopefully, this will start to change as we move towards the warmer months of the year."

Median house prices also lifted for July year-on-year with the average house price sale up 14.8 percent to $660,000.

Excluding Auckland, the median price was now $559,000 - a new record.

Auckland's price was $920,000 which was higher than July 2019, but slightly down on June 2020's average.

Gisborne saw the biggest boost in price - 36 percent - with a residential property now going for $483,000.

Norwell said July marked 106 months in a row of year-on-year median house price increases.

"Even Queenstown-Lakes, which everyone predicted would be one of the most hard-hit regions due to a lack of international tourists, saw a record median price for the district in July of $1,100,000.

"Additionally, Dunedin was predicted to be hard-hit due to a lack of investors, but median prices are up 10.8 percent annually to $515,000."

Houses also sold more quickly in June, with average days to sell nationally down seven days - the lowest days-to-sell average for July in four years.