NZ Herald Says “House sales up, prices rise in November”

New Zealand annual house sales rose for the first time in 13 months, driven by higher value properties as the lower end of the market is crimped by Reserve Bank mortgage lending restrictions.

The number of houses sold rose 6.5 per cent to 7,416 in November, from the same month a year earlier, the Real Estate Institute said in a statement. The national median sale price rose 7.2 per cent to a record $455,750.

The housing market was more buoyant for properties over $1 million, where volumes increased 27 per cent from the year earlier, contrasting with fewer sales of lower priced houses below $400,000, where volumes declined 3.8 per cent, the institute said.

In October last year, the Reserve Bank introduced loan-to-value mortgage lending restrictions in an attempt to cool the housing market and shore up financial stability.

“The November data shows there was an element of buoyancy returning to parts of the real estate market,” institute chief executive Helen O’Sullivan said. “The top end of the market is driving the overall rise in the national and some regional median prices, while those dwellings in the lower deciles are seeing less price growth and a lack of buyer capacity which may be related to the LVR restrictions currently in place.”

Auckland, the country’s largest city, and earthquake devastated Canterbury, the second largest, continued to account for the most of the movement in prices.

Some 64 per cent of the increase in the national median price occurred in Auckland, which reached a record median price of $670,000, while the Canterbury/Westland region accounted for 12 per cent of the increase and reached a record median price of $417,000. The Waikato/Bay of Plenty and Wellington regions also set new record median prices of $360,000 and $425,000 respectively.

The stratified housing index, which strips out peaks and troughs in the market, rose 6 per cent from the same month a year earlier, taking it to a record. On that basis, the Auckland index has risen 9.4 per cent while Christchurch was up 9.2 per cent, and both are also at records.

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