December was another month of records for the New Zealand housing market, with new REINZ figures showing the median price jumping to an all-time high as the number of properties available for sale plunged.
The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) reports that for the fourth month in a row, the national median house price reached a record high, hitting $749,000 in December. That's up an incredible 19.3 percent from $628,000 in December 2019. Even taking Auckland out of the equation, national prices jumped 17.8 percent over the year.
For the City of Sails alone, the median price rose by 17.4 percent to an all-time high of $1,040,000.
Overall, 11 regions reached new heights in December. Gisborne had the largest increase, up 43.9 percent from $410,000 in December 2019 to $590,000 in December 2020. West Coast, Manawatu/Wanganui, Hawke's Bay and Northland rounded out the top five biggest jumps.
The massive jumps in price come as REINZ says the number of properties available in New Zealand dropped 29.1 percent in December to 12,932 - the lowest ever. The problem is found across nearly every region, with only Auckland and Gisborne not recording their lowest levels of inventory ever.
Nelson, Marlborough and Manawatu/Wanganui were the regions with the largest percentage decrease in properties available, with drops of 49.1 percent, 49 percent and 48.3 percent respectively.
More residential properties were also sold in December than any other December before.
"December 2020 saw 8935 properties sold which is 2392 more houses than the same time last year. That’s an additional 77 properties sold every single day in December, which is a pretty remarkable result and shows what a strong position the property market finished 2020 in," says REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell.
The number of properties sold in Auckland jumped 66 percent year-on-year in December, with the West Coast, Canterbury, Waikato, Gisborne and Taranaki all experiencing large increases in annual sales volumes. Only Marlborough, Tasman and Nelson saw sales drop.
"Similar to what we’ve seen in the past few months, with market confidence high, buyers are likely to be keen to purchase ahead of further anticipated price rises and the re-introduction of the LVRs," Norwell said.
"Therefore, we would expect that the housing market will be busy for the next few months. However, if we don’t see more stock come to the market, we may start to see this impact sales volumes going forward."
REINZ also reports that the median number of days to sell a property nationally dropped four days to 27 when compared to December 2019, the lowest since December 2003.
Norwell said the figures stress "we urgently need a combined response from Government and industry to solve the housing affordability issues the country is facing".
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said the Government will make announcements early this year.