Realtor group says concerns real estate agents will quit over falling house sales are overblown

By Felix Walton of RNZ

Concerns over fewer house sales leading to real estate agents leaving the industry are overblown, a group representing realtors says.

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) said it was still a good time to be a realtor, even with the housing market performing worse than last year.

REINZ chief executive Jen Baird said the slower pace was only natural after an exceptional 2021.

"We have to remember that 2021 was a monster of a year in real estate," Baird said.

"It broke all of the records in terms of the amount of property that was changing hands across New Zealand in pretty much every single market. What we're seeing now is far more normal."

The volume of sales had decreased by about 30 percent, she said.

On average, houses would take 10 days longer to sell than they did last year.

"It's taking a little bit longer to put those deals together, which you would expect when demand is easing and there is a fair amount more supply around."

Buyers were feeling hesitant amid inflationary concerns, Baird said.

"What we have seen across the year is ongoing increases in interest rates and economic uncertainty, and conversations around inflation, and the property market sits within that overall economic conversation.

"All of that creates uncertainty for buyers and they're absolutely taking their time."

It was less of a downturn and more of a correction, Baird said.

"The property market, like all markets, is cyclical, and we're looking at the same sorts of numbers we were talking about in 2010 and 2011.

"Real estate people that have been around for a wee while will have seen a number of these cycles."

Though the slower pace had some realtors questioning their careers, Baird was not worried about a mass exodus.

"There's been lots of talk about [people leaving the industry], but we're not really seeing that just yet.

"If I look at the latest active licenses from the Real Estate Authority, they are higher than they have been."

It was a similar story for Baird's organisation.

"From a REINZ membership perspective, it's down a little bit from about six months ago, but really nothing that suggests people are leaving in droves."

Homeowners should not worry, but should manage their expectations, Baird said.

"You need to recognise that it's unlikely that you're going to list your house this week and it's going to be sold next week."

The market had changed, and it was likely to continue.

"Throughout the year, we've seen an easing in the growth of prices.

"All indications are, with another rise in interest rates likely in February, that we will continue to see an easing for the next little while."