The number of new house listings hit a 16-year low last month as Kiwis feel uncertainty over buying and selling their properties, a new report has found.
The latest New Zealand Property Report from realestate.co.nz found new listings hitting the market were at a record low last month compared to every other March since 2007. Only 9242 new listings went up for sale in March 2023 - just over half of the 17,867 that hit the market in March 2007.
Year-on-year, new listings were down by 17.7 percent, which indicates vendors are sitting tight, according to realestate.co.nz spokesperson for Vanessa Williams.
"Kiwis love property. But in times of uncertainty, we tend to delay decisions to buy or sell. I think that is what we are seeing here," she said.
"We saw a similar thing in March 2020 when high levels of uncertainty with the arrival of COVID-19 and the coming election saw people hitting pause on listing their homes for sale."
Listings dropped by 16.5 percent in March 2020 compared to the previous year. But when March 2021 arrived, there were more normal listings levels of 11,322.
New listings down in almost all regions
The biggest year-on-year drops in new listings were Gisborne (down 43.9 percent), Central North Island (down 30.2 percent), Wellington (down 29.7 percent), Manawatu-Whanganui (down 28.0 percent), Hawke's Bay (down 26.1 percent), Wairarapa (down 24.8 percent), and Auckland (down 22.1 percent).
However, Coromandel, Marlborough, and Taranaki saw new listings increase by 20.4 percent, 18.6 percent, and 9.7 percent, respectively.
"The number of people searching on realestate.co.nz for property in Coromandel and Taranaki was also up last month compared to February. This tells us that demand in these regions is still strong," Williams said.
The most popular areas for users searching in these regions were Whangamata (for Coromandel), Hāwera (for Taranaki), and Picton (for Marlborough).
Stock growth slows
In contrast to the increases in stock seen over the last few months, total stock growth slowed during March, realestate.co.nz found. Coromandel was the only region that saw a stock increase during March by more than 100 percent year-on-year.
Three regions last month also saw their stock levels decline. Compared to March 2022, stock decreased by 19.4 percent in Wellington, 8 percent in Gisborne, and 1.8 percent in Auckland. Wellington was the only region where stock also dropped during February.
Williams said this might be a very early sign of a shift in these markets.
"New listings coming onto the market have been low since the beginning of 2023, and I think we are going to start to see this decline reflected in stock levels as the current inventory starts to sell out."
Nationally, stock was up 14.1 percent last month compared to March 2022.
Average asking prices down in most regions
Compared to March 2022, average asking prices were down in most regions and the national average asking price was down 11.7 percent to $856,627.
However, going against the grain was Central Otago-Lakes, where the average asking price hit $1,480,825. This is an all-time high since realestate.co.nz's records began 16 years ago.
Williams said the average asking price in the region is significantly higher than in any other region around New Zealand.
"At close to $1.5 million, average asking prices in the Central Otago-Lakes region surpass those in our main centres, which is interesting given it is not a commercial hub where we see higher demand for property and therefore higher prices."
Williams believed the lifestyle is a big drawcard for those looking to buy in that area, with Wanaka, Cromwell, and Jacks Point being the most searched suburbs in the region and Queenstown being the most searched keyword.
"The overwhelming majority of those searching for property in the region are located in Auckland. I suspect that, for some, the ease of a plane ride between the two locations makes this region appealing," Williams said.
She added the number of users searching in this region increased by more than 5 percent last month compared to February 2023.
The only other places where average asking prices increased compared to March 2022 were Gisborne, Southland, Coromandel, and Marlborough.