December is traditionally a quieter month for new listings coming onto the market with a noticeable decline in activity after the middle of the month as property searching takes a back seat to Christmas focus. This behaviour markedly changes in the first week of January when searching starts again in earnest with the busiest time of year for online property search.
The calendar year 2009 saw the property market close with a continued subdued sentiment. The level of new listings for the year was down 17% on 2008 and 24% down on the 2007 year. This considerably lower number of listings has been matched by a slower year for sales. The level of property sales through the year remained subdued with the 12 month moving average to November being just under 69,000,whilst up on the year prior figure of 57,000; the long term average 12 months sales would be closer to 98,000.
The level of inventory fell in December to 34.3 weeks. The fall however is unlikely to reflect a tightening in the market at this stage as a possible indicator of an emerging sellers market, rather this statistic is more a reflection of the lower seasonal listings coming onto the market matched to the strong sales months preceding Christmas.
The key movement in what was a steady month for new listings was the easing of asking price expectation. The price fell back from what had been a noticeable spike 3 months ago when the asking price jumped by just over $20,000 in a month back in September leading into the Spring selling period.
This price represented a 1.7% fall in asking price when compared to the moving average of the past 3 months (Sep/Oct/ Nov).
The asking price of new listings in November last year was $401,631 representing a 2.7% year on year increase.
The total of 2009 saw 135,416 new listings come onto the market. The calendar year 2008 saw 163,488, with 2007 with 177,529 clearly showing the quieter state of the property market.
This fall is a common seasonal factor as December sees fewer new listings, whilst sales continue strongly for the first half of the month. A similar fall in inventory levels has been seen in each of the last 2 years of records.
Regional Summary – Asking price expectation
Whilst the national asking price expectation of vendors eased in December the total number of regions showing a fall represented only 7 of the 19 regions. The major influence of the 3 main centers however affected the overall picture with both Wellington and Canterbury down 2.6% and 2.5% respectively as compared to the recent 3 month average.
The Auckland market showed an easing of 1% down to $530,923 – this is still 3% below the peak of the property market in asking price terms back in October 2007 when the asking price was $547,163.
In provincial areas asking prices showed some significant increases with 6 regions having asking price increases over 5% as compared to 3 month averages with both the West Coast and Central North Island recording double digit increases.
Regional Summary – New listings
New listings were down in December as a function of seasonal factors. There were only 2 regions reporting listings lower than a year ago however. This overwhelming trend to year on year growth in listings across the country has more to do with the state of the market a year ago when the full economic impact was being felt in the property market with the fear of falling prices were negatively effecting buyer sentiment.
The majority of the increases in new listings are being seen outside of the main centers with Wellington and Canterbury showing very modest increases in listings and Auckland showing just 6% increase with 2,730 new listings.
Regional Summary – Inventory
Given the seasonal trend to reduced inventory across the country in December the overall market appears fairly balanced with 7 regions tipping towards a buyer’s market and 7 tipping towards a seller’s market.
The main 3 metropolitan areas continue to point to a stronger position for sellers with Auckland at 26 weeks inventory as compared to a 12 month avg. of 35m, Wellington at 16 vs. 12 month avg. of 21 and Canterbury at 26 vs. 12 month avg. of 31. Other notable areas shifting to a more sellers market is the Coromandel and area that has over the past year been a classic buyer’s market with inventory peaking at 284 weeks now down to a level of 146 well below long term average.
On the buyer’s market side Marlbourgh region has been seen steady increasing inventory levels now at 69 weeks compared to 12 month avg. of 52 weeks, similarly the Central North Island including Taupo sitting at 88 weeks up from 59 weeks 3 months ago.
Lifestyle listings in December were relatively strong based on seasonal expectation. A total of 995 new listings came onto the market with an asking price expectation of $614,951. The volume of listings was up 19% on December last year and the asking price was up1.9% on the recent 3 month average.
There were significant increases in new listings added in the Central North Island, Bay of Plenty, Northland, Wellington region; as well as Central Otago Lakes and Marlborough. Set against this were significantly lower new listings in Manawatu / Wanganui and Taranaki regions.
The apartment market slowed in December with just 480 new listings coming onto the market representing a year on year growth of 7%, however a 25% fall from November. In the calendar year 2009 6,416 new apartment listings came onto the market as compared to 6,916 in 2008 and a staggering 8,470 in 2007 indicating that the apartment market remains subdued.
The asking price expectation for the new listings in December was $379,567 – this represents a 2% decline as compared to the 3 month average.
The full report can be downloaded here (1.2MB pdf document). Additionally the raw data is accessible here as an Excel spreadsheet enabling anyone to analyse the raw data and establish any trends or observations. Usage rights are governed by attribution to the source of the data being Realestate.co.nz. The next NZ Property Report for January 2010 will be published on this website on Monday 1st February at 10am.