The start of the year was the slowest January for sales activity since 2011, indicating fewer properties are getting snapped up by buyers, latest real estate data shows.
Released on Tuesday, latest figures from Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) show the national median selling price in January was $880,000, up 20.5 percent year-on-year. It marks a 2.2 percent drop from December 2021, when the median selling price (adjusted) was $900,000.
There were 3665 properties sold over January, down 28.6 percent year-on-year. Across the country, the last time the sales count was lower was in January 2011, REINZ confirms.
Talking to Newshub, REINZ chief executive Jen Baird said it's typical to see the number of properties sold drop off between December and January.
After allowing for this drop-off, seasonally-adjusted figures show a 5.3 percent reduction in the number of sales between the two months.
"That means that this January is weaker than we'd normally expect," Baird told Newshub.
Compared to 2021, when low levels of stock provided slim pickings for buyers, there are now just under 20,000 properties listed on the market.
"The number of new listings was only down a small amount year-on-year [1.7 percent]…as we head into February and March, the number of listings grows," Baird added.
In all but three regions, property sales dropped year-on-year.
"We've only got three regions that were showing an increase in the number of sales…everywhere else in New Zealand, there's been a reduction in activity compared to the same period last year," Baird said.
For the Nelson, Otago, Taranaki and Manawatu/Whanganui regions, January 2022 marks the lowest level of sales activity since 1992, when records began.
For the Tasman region, it's the lowest level of activity since 2000.
Auckland sales volumes down 32.2 percent year-on-year
At 1323 properties sold in January, the number of properties sold in Auckland was down 32.2 percent year-on-year.
Other regions where sales volumes were down year-on-year include West Coast, down 55.4 percent (25 sales), Northland, down 36.6 percent (109 sales) and Canterbury, down 36.4 percent (498 sales).
Three regions see sales increase year-on-year
Three regions had a year-on-year increase in sales.
These were Wellington, up 9 percent year-on-year (316 sales), Marlborough, up 7.7 percent year-on-year (42 sales) and Hawkes Bay, up 2.5 percent year-on-year (124 sales).
Buyers have more "choice", but there are a number of factors at-play that are likely to be impacting sales. These include CCCFA changes requiring stricter assessments of prospective borrowers, affecting willingness to lend, tightened loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions and rising inflation.
"What we're hearing from real estate professionals across the country is, particularly first-home buyers, it's taking them longer to get their finances lined up," Baird said.
Feedback also showed a slowdown in investor activity, following the Government housing announcement in March 2020.
REINZ expects these measures, including removal of tax deductibility on interest payments, to influence investor activity over the next couple of years, as the changes bed in.
The median number of days it took to sell properties nationwide was 37 days.
Across the country, 530 properties sold by auction, (14.5 percent of all sales), the lowest percentage sold by auction since July 2020.
The house price index (HPI), a measure of underlying value of the property market, was 4164 in January, down 1.5 percent from December. Year-on-year, HPI was up by 19.9 percent.