The Unconditional Blog

The impartial voice of the industry

 
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Southland Property Pulse factsheet – April 2011

Posted on: May 19th, 2011 | Filed in Southland Property Market Factsheet

The Southland region property pulse factsheet for April 2011 is published using data from Realestate.co.nz and REINZ (Real Estate Institute of NZ).

Property sales in Southland at 126 in the month rose slightly on a seasonally adjusted basis in April but were down 5% as compared to a year ago. The inventory of unsold houses on the market rose to 56 weeks to remain well above the long-term average of 32 weeks of equivalent sales.

Median sales price at $193,250 was up 4% as compared to a year ago, and up on the prior month. The asking price expectation of new listings was up 2% as compared to a year ago at $245,093.

The level of new listings coming onto the market in April at 222 fell as compared to March and was down a significant 44% as compared to a year ago.

 

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Accuracy of property listing data

Posted on: May 16th, 2011 | Filed in Agent Tips, Buying / Selling a home, Website searching

The NZ Herald today published an article “Revealed: NZ’s top homes for sale“. The article utilised search data from Realestate.co.nz which is publicly accessible to search out the most expensive top 20 properties currently advertised on the website.

The article highlighted a property which was advertised on Realestate.co.nz for sale at an asking price of $17.5m. This was the price which the agent had sent through to our system, and therefore this is the price we displayed for the property.  The property upon investigation is actually for sale at $1.75m.

The NZ Herald has had to make a update to its online article to reflect this error presented in the article, the print article though was published based on the data presented on the website at that time. To be clear Realestate.co.nz was not approached to provide this information.

Now clearly this situation is not satisfactory – it is not satisfactory to the property owner as very people will be interested in looking or enquiring about such a property at that extreme price level; and not satisfactory to the prospective buyers who may question the accuracy of data on the website.

Running the website of Realestate.co.nz is a challenge of extensive data management. We display over 74,000 residential properties for sale or rent at any one time, around 700 new listings are added on an average day together with around 500 changes to property details. These additions and changes are provided by the total of over 1,050 offices subscribing to the website who send data to us electronically all the time.

If we were to start to review every listing coming in everyday to look for mistakes or accuracy of information we would need to employ an army of reviewers. That however is not the real issue. The key issue is that it is not possible for us to review or audit any of this data as we are not in a position to know any details of specific properties. The listing agent who is providing a service to the vendor is responsible for the accurate collation and publishing of this information on the web and in print.

Such situations as these are deeply frustrating to us. We act immediately we are informed of an issue or if a complaint is made to us. We investigate and communicate with the agent concerned and take immediate action, in this case to correct this price. In other cases we often remove the listing pending any investigation to ensure that no misleading or inaccurate information is displayed on the website.

The key thing is this regard is the importance for all agents and salespeople on behalf of their clients to proof their listings and in that way ensure that every advert whether on the web or in print is accurate and a true representation for the property they are marketing on behalf of their client.

 

 

 

 

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Property searching on mobile is a clear winner

Posted on: May 13th, 2011 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, mobile, Website searching

I was very interested to read this week of the performance of the Trade Me iPhone app. In a very open manner they shared their data with the NBR. This naturally prompted me to examine the data from the Realestate.co.nz iPhone app after our first 5 months of operation.

As far as uptake is concerned in excess of 1 in every 10 iPhone owners has now downloaded the app, a total exceeding 25,000 downloads since we released the app in November. Every day we continue to see over 100 new users discover this great way to discovery property for sale right around them.

Trade Me’s app was launched at the same time, and in that time they have had over 110,000 downloads. Like Trade Me we had modest expectations of around 12,000 to 15,000 downloads within 6 months; so for us 25,000 for such a specialised app as compared to Trade Me’s app which covers such a diversity of content, is really encouraging.

This strong adoption of real estate listings search on the iPhone is reflective of a global trend which has seen over 1 million downloads of the UK real estate website Rightmove iPhone app and across in Australia over 180,000 for Realestate.com.au iPhone app.

The most developed market in terms of mobile usage for property search is the USA – there the #1 property portal Zillow.com reports not only downloads exceeding 3 million, but the level of engagement of buyers with property listings on the mobile platform is fast approaching a third of all viewings. For Realestate.co.nz we see that in the past month 10% of all property listings views are made via the iPhone app with a further 2% being on the mobile web platform across a number of mobile devices including Android and the iPad; this after just 6 months, shows how important the mobile platform is to the experience of looking for property to buy.

Another very interesting insight in the usage of the mobile device is the heavy usage at the weekend. Whereas the web usage has higher activity during the week the iPhone is clearly a weekend tool – part of the open home toolkit for a Saturday morning allowing active property hunters to drive around the areas checking out what is on the market or sitting in a cafe between open home visits.

In terms of usage the iPhone is clearly not a tool limited to the inner city suburbs, in the month of April over 90% of all listings of property on the iPhone were viewed by property hunters – that is a figure which has grown progressively over the past months as the penetration has gown and usage has extended to every corner of the country.

Clearly we see the iPhone app (and future Android app) becoming a critical platform to provide property hunters with a great experience to aid the process of finding that perfect property. We have new developments and functionality planned for the next few months and will keep improving the experience. With a dedicated audience of over 25,000 we are fully committed to this sector of the market.

 

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NZ Property Report – April 2011

Posted on: May 1st, 2011 | Filed in Featured, NZ Property Report

The April 2011 NZ Property Report published by Realestate.co.nz provides an insight into the state of the New Zealand property market as measured by the supply side of the property market over the month of April. The key measures of the market analysed in the report are the number of new listings, the asking price expectation for those new listings and the level of inventory of unsold houses on the market at this time. The report is compiled from data captured by the website and represents close to 95% of all property movements in the NZ market as managed by licensed real estate agents.

A full print version of the NZ Property Report – April 2011 is published below and is available for download (1.3MB) and distribution.

Summary of the market – April 2011

The NZ Property market certainly is showing signs of renewed activity, far from the levels of the mid 2000’s the current activity is measured and very much centered on the Auckland region. Whilst in overall terms the level of inventory weighs heavy on all regions the levels of sales reported in March show that buyers are certainly back in the market and beginning to clear some of this high inventory.

By the nature of the way inventory is reported (actual stock divided by 3 month average sales) the very low levels of sales in January and February is in some way holding back the reporting of this trend of greater activity. It is likely that with the reporting of the April sales that the next inventory report for May will show a significant fall in inventory levels of unsold houses.

The market amongst sellers is certainly not showing any impact of inventory levels, as a function of such seller confidence the national truncated mean asking price has risen in April to a new record high of recorded stats going back to the start of 2007.

As a further lead indicator to the market, the levels of new listings continue to track well below prior year. In fact we have seen 10 consecutive months of falls in listings numbers year-on-year.

Asking Price

The truncated mean asking price for all new listings in April rose to establish a new peak at $429,249 up from $421,940 in March. On a seasonally adjusted basis the asking price rose 2% in the month indicating a continued confidence amongst sellers.

The trend of the past 2 years shows continued strength in asking price expectation.

New Listings

The level of new listings coming onto the market in April fell to 10,181 in April. This represented a 17% year on year decline and an 8% seasonally adjusted decline from March.

On a 12 month moving basis the number of new listings in the past year totals 129,678 as compared 142,635 for the same period a year ago – a fall of 9%.

Inventory

The level of unsold houses on the market at the end of April continued to fall from prior months. April reported 50,398 down from 51,980 in March and 52,672 in February.

This steady decline in the physical number of new listings is not being reflected in the representation of inventory as measured in rate of sales as the recent 3 month period (Jan – March 2011) contained two of the lowest sales months recorded.

Regional Summary – Asking price expectations

The national asking price rising to a new peak at $429,249 was mirrored across the country as can be seen from the chart with a significant growth in all but 2 regions. The highest rising region was Otago which with a 12.5% increase to $298,817 has itself hit a new peak of asking price.

The Auckland market at $555,572 whilst not quite hitting the peak, continues to track at all time highs close to the peak set in December 2010 at $564,853. The April asking price was up 5% on April last year and showed a 1% seasonally adjusted rise from March.

Those regions that showed falls, Bay of Plenty with a 3% fall and the Central North Island with a 7% fall, both had seen strong asking prices through the latter part of 2010 and into early 2011.

Regional Summary – Listings

The picture for new listings across the country continues to show that there is weakness in bringing new properties to the market. There were 13 of the 19 regions that reported new listing down on prior year with 6 reporting falls of over 20%; both Coromandel and Southland over 40%. The former region has been suffering under a significant weight of inventory of unsold houses for many months.

In the main metro areas listings are low with the impact of the earthquake restricting new listings in Canterbury (down 32%), Wellington was weak with just 741 new listings, down 29% and Auckland down 17% with 3,325 new listings.

Two regions did see very strong growth in listings; of particular note was the Queenstown Lakes area which saw a raft of new listings including a large collection of apartments.

Regional Summary – Inventory

The regional map of inventory of unsold houses shows a very consistent picture of high inventory in all but the one region that of Auckland. This scale of inventory at levels well above long term average is very much a function of very low sales at the start of the year which despite the actual fall in properties on the market is making the evaluation of the market point to very high inventory based on rate of sale.

The Auckland market is very much on the boundary of moving from a buyer’s market to one favouring sellers. The Auckland market has seen a reduction of properties on the market from around 14,100 just before Christmas to currently 12,376.

Around the rest of the country the inventory levels reached new peaks in the Hawkes Bay, Manawatu/Wanganui, Northland, Otago and Southland.

Lifestyle

The level of new listings of lifestyle property coming onto the market in April fell just 1% on a seasonally adjusted basis from March. A total of 1,032 new properties were listed with a truncated mean asking price of $571,611. The asking price was up 5% as compared to the recent 3 month average, but up just 1% as compared to prior year.

On a rolling 12 month average basis new listings are down 4.5% with 11,764 listed in the past 12 months compared to 12,314 last year.

Apartments

Listings of apartments showed a 9% rise on a seasonally adjusted basis as compared to March with 452 new apartments coming onto the market. The truncated mean asking price for these new listings was $399,927 which was up 8.5% on the recent 3 month average, but down 4.1% as compared to April 2010.

In the Auckland apartment market which represents over 60% of the market there were 285 new listings with an asking price of $350,306. The new listings shows a rise of 24% on a seasonally adjusted basis, although when judged on a year-on-year basis they are down 22%.

Property Price Index

Comparing the sale price of properties across the country to the asking price expectation is not a perfect comparison; however the trends tend to align. The benefit is that the data for asking price is of the market today, whilst the selling price is reflective of the market active between 4 and 6 weeks ago. The latest comparison is highlighted below:

Realestate.co.nz data is compiled from asking prices of new residential listings as they come onto the market via subscribers to the realestate.co.nz website. The Realestate.co.nz website currently has over 95% of all licensed real estate offices subscribing and providing all of their listings onto the website. The asking price is presented as a truncated mean price at a 10% interval.

REINZ: data is compiled from reported unconditional residential sales from all members of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand representing all licensed real estate offices. The sale price is published as a stratified median house price and is developed in association with the Reserve Bank of NZ.

Notes:

Truncated mean

The monthly asking price for new listings presented in this report utilises the measure of ‘truncated mean’. This measure is judged to be a more accurate measure of the market price than average price as it statistically removes the extremes that exist within any property market that can so easily introduce a skew to traditional average price figures.

The truncated mean used in this report removes the upper 10% and the lower 10% of listings in each data set. An average or mean of the balance of listings is then calculated.

Methodology

With the largest database of properties for sale in NZ, realestate.co.nz is uniquely placed to immediately identify any changes in the marketplace. The realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report is compiled from new listings coming onto the market from the more than 1,020 licensed real estate offices across NZ, representing more than 95% of all offices.

With an average monthly level of over 10,000 new listings, the realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report provides the largest monthly sample report on the residential property market, as well as a more timely view of the property market than any other property report. The data is collated and analysed at the close of each month, and the Report is compiled for the 1st day of the following month. This provides a feedback mechanism as to the immediate state of the market, well in advance of sales statistics which by the very nature of the selling process can reflect activity with a lag of between 2 and 4 months.

In analysing the details of the 10,181 new listings in the month of April a total of 127 listings have been excluded due to anomalies. The categorisation of Lifestyle property is defined by the land area of the property. The criterion is a property having in excess of 0.3 hectares and being situated outside metropolitan areas.

Background to Realestate.co.nz

Realestate.co.nz is the official website company of the real estate industry of New Zealand, it is an industry owned web business providing online marketing services to the real estate industry. The shareholders in the business comprise the REINZ (50%) and six of the largest real estate companies (50%).

The business operates a portfolio of websites all focused to specialist sectors of the real estate market:

Realestate.co.nz is the heart of the business and is focused to the residential property market. It features the most comprehensive selection of property for sale and rent across NZ. The website attracts a significant monthly audience of over 400,000 unique browsers, with over 110,000 of those visiting from countries outside of NZ.

nzFarms is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of farms and agricultural businesses on the market across NZ. At this time it features around 5,000 listings for all types of farms and agricultural land as well as over 11,000 lifestyle properties.

Prime Commercial is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of commercial property for purchase or lease on the market across NZ. At this time it features over 27,000 listings for all types of properties – retail, commercial, industrial and investment properties.

Prime Business is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of businesses for sale on the market across NZ. At this time it features over 4,300 listings for all types of businesses – retail, tourism, wholesale as well as franchise opportunities.

Zoodle is a specialist property information website providing very detailed data on all residential properties in NZ. The database comprises over 1.6m properties with detailed specifications, map and local amenities. The site provides online reports for free and for purchase covering valuation and legal information to greatly assist the needs of property buyers and sellers.

The web business of Realestate.co.nz site is the most comprehensive real estate web operation in NZ, currently hosting over 120,000 listings, covering this portfolio of residential property for sale and rent, commercial property for sale and lease, rural properties and farms, as well as businesses for sale. With a subscriber base of over 1,020 offices, the company represents over 95% of all listings from licensed real estate agents in NZ.

The full NZ Property Report for April 2011 can be downloaded here (1.3MB 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 under attribution to the source of the data being Realestate.co.nz. The next NZ Property Report for May 2011 will be published on this website on Wednesday 1st June 2011 at 10am.

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Changing focus of enquiries to property listings

Posted on: April 29th, 2011 | Filed in Agent Tips, Website searching

The web is a vast repository of data. The key is making sense of it and providing that information to those who rely upon it to run their business. In the case of real estate our role at Realestate.co.nz is to not only run a popular and comprehensive website for real estate listings to support the advertising needs of our customers – real estate agents, but also to share key data of the behaviours and trends we see in the use of the website.

A key outcome of great value to real estate agents is leads – strong prospects made up of both vendors and buyers. Such leads can come from a variety of connections from the website. The most eagerly anticipated lead is from an email sent from the website to an agent regarding a property. Second only to this is a phone call originated from the contact details of the listing agent displayed adjacent to the listing.

These would generally be regarded as the most significant lead generation mechanisms from the website, however there are others. Each listing generally has a link from the webpage of the listing on realestate.co.nz to that listing on the agent or office website. Additionally each agent and office has their own webpage on the site which has links to their own website or social media platform; again providing an opportunity for enquires to be made by clients to agents. Many of such leads may result in the opportunity for agents to make listing presentations as prospective vendors use realestate.co.nz to profile agents. This profiling allows a vendor to establish the professional capabilities by reviewing the approach an agent takes to profiling, promoting and displaying a current clients’ listings.

One trend that has been noticeable and is demonstrated by the chart below is the extent to which realestate.co.nz is acting as a referral site to agents own websites.

In March of this year just under 400,000 instances of referral links were made from realestate.co.nz to agents and offices websites, this is up significantly on the 317,000 in March of last year.

This trend of increasing referral to real estate company and agent websites potentially points to greater researching on the part of serious property buyers, seeking comprehensive facts regarding properties and agents. This trend is only likely to continue in the future with the growing focus of buyers and sellers to online searching.

It is interesting to note that this trend could be a factor behind a recent number of comments made by real estate agents that lead generation from their own website has been growing – this could well be the result of serious enquiries originated from realestate.co.nz and then referred onto their website. A core principle of realestate.co.nz since the start of the company back in 2006 has been to provide as comprehensive and easy access for consumers to communicate with agents using whatever medium they choose – this now appears to be more through referral links than any other form.

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The wish list of property seekers

Posted on: April 28th, 2011 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Home features, Website searching

This week we have been extending the testing of our new beta site for Realestate.co.nz. In opening up access to a wider audience we have encouraged people to share with us the things they like about the new site, as well as those areas where we could do better!

Such an exercise is tremendous in opening up a dialogue with our users. To date we have received 116 emails. Reviewing and replying to them has been an enlightening and enjoyable experience as I have certainly gleaned a great insight into not only how they feel about the site, but also the things that as active users of our site they would love to see us do more of.

Overall we seem to have developed a site design and functionality that judged on this sample group is a positive step forward.

As well as functional feedback it is really interesting to hear of the things that people most want to be able to find on a website. Taking a simple poll of these comments I have tabulated the top 5 things people would most like to see on a real estate site.

Map based search

This is by far and away the greatest demand from our users and thankfully this is something that the new site delivers to the massive satisfaction of this audience.

Many have commented as to the excellent value and experience of the iPhone app that we launched at the end of last year (now exceeding 24,000 downloads to date and growing!). That user experience seems to so many people so intuitive that we had to bring it to the web.

A comment made by all the people was the extent to which they were surprised and disappointed that Google had ceased to offer this service. Now we can step in to fill this void and provide a vital way of display property for sale as seen from an aerial view perspective. Or as one email commented – “show the properties exactly where they are, rather than where the agent would like to have us think they are!”

CV

It is clear that richer data is expected by users of real estate website and the data that most frustrates them is the access to the CV or rating valuation. This is seen as a “must have” and as many quote – the data is accessible from most council websites.

The fact is we would love to add this key fact to listings on the website, however whereas a single query can provide the CV for a single property for free via a council website, to enable us to provide this for all properties requires access to a database for all properties. This is a service for which we would have to pay a significant license fee to local authorities or to QV who acting for these councils undertakes to provide the data.

Definitive price

This response (can we please have a price on every listings) is not news to us. Ever since we started the website in 2006 we have had constant comments and questions as to why we cannot get or encourage agents to provide a price on every property. Users of the site are vocal in their view that a price or a price guide would vastly improve the user experience. Many go as far to state that they completely ignore properties for which there is no displayed price – arguing that they have no confidence that the appearance of a property in the search results may not be a true reflection of the expected price.

We do share with these people that the listings we receive must be provided with either a display price, a search range or more common these days a non-display search price. We need to ensure that property listings for a filtered search price genuinely reflect the true range of the property for sale.

Land and building size

People generally believe that the size of a section or the size of the property should be as standard a set of data as the number of bedrooms or ensuites. It is hard to argue with this assertion as all properties have a legal title that defines the section size. As to building size this is certainly less easily available. To assist in this area we do integrate listings with property database of Zoodle which often provides section and building size. Where we can (accurate addressing of the property) we link directly from Realestate.co.nz to Zoodle.

Representative images

Interestingly a few comments were made as to the “authenticity” of some property images. The perspective was that photographers had been known to use certain types of lens to be – how it might be called “more generous” with the size of rooms when taking pictures.

Whilst we do not actively get involved in the production of photos (we simply display those images we are given) we are always delighted to see the general trend to have more photos, better quality photos and bigger photos. It is funny to think back 5 years ago when we started the website the average listing had just 4 photos and the size was tiny. Today the average has shot up to 16 and the size grown significantly.

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Are signs of economic stress leaving the property market?

Posted on: April 21st, 2011 | Filed in Featured, Online marketing

Nearly two years ago I wrote a post asking the question “Have signs of distress left the property market?” – in retrospect this was a bit of an early call as since that time I am not sure we would collectively feel that we have yet got over the worst.

That article was written to analyse the searching behaviour of people using realestate.co.nz to seek out properties that were being sold with signs of distress and desperation as a function of the very severe economic conditions brought on by the Global Financial Crisis and our own recession.

Bringing this analysis up to date provides a perspective that things have improved – and some things have not!

Back in 2009 we examined 4 keywords that were being used in searches which we judged reflected an interest by eager buyers to find properties where the owners where suffering and in need of a fast sale. These words were: Motivated / Urgent / Desperate / Must Sell. The chart shows the tracking of the total for these 4 keywords over the past 2 years.

Clearly the searching for these keywords has fallen off – both in absolute terms (blue line) and as a proportion of all searches (red line). From the highs of 2009 when the rate of these searches was up to 150 per week the scale of such searches has calmed down to a level of less than one in every 200 searches.

However what is interesting is comparing the level of properties on the market which include these keywords.

Back in January 2009 there were 93 listings on the site using the word “Desperate“, 6 months later this had fallen to 67, now in April 2011 this is number is still 67!!

The phrase “Must sell” has 3,269 listings in January 2009, falling to 2,527 in July 2009 and today back up to 3,444!

The keyword “Urgent” showed up on 436 listings in January 2009, falling to 344 by July 2009 and today – up to 386!

The keyword of “Motivated” showed up on 1,377 listings in January 2009, falling to 1,080 by July and again today it has risen to 1,477.

So it would seem that whilst the urgency of buyers to seek out properties whose vendors are experiencing pressure of mounting financial stress has declined markedly over the past 2 years the use of these key emotive phrases by real estate agents on behalf of clients has not diminished.

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NZ Property Pulse – March 2011

Posted on: April 18th, 2011 | Filed in Featured, Property Pulse - Regional Market Report

Each month we publish a factsheet for each region of the country to provide an insight to the key numbers that detail the health of the property market across the country.

These reports for the month of March cover all 16 provincial regions as well as reports covering the 3 main metropolitan regions of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The Auckland report is divided up into each of the main metro areas (North Shore, Waitakere, Manukau as well as Auckland City).

Each factsheet provides the key numbers in table and chart form using the key statistics from the Real Estate Institute of NZ and Realestate.co.nz. This provides the number of property sales in the month, the median sales price for those property sales, the inventory of unsold properties on the market, as well as the number and the asking price expectation of new listings brought onto the market in the month.

Metropolitan Areas

Auckland City

North Shore

Waitakere

Manukau

Wellington

Chistchurch

Provincial Areas

Northland

Coromandel

Waikato

Bay of Plenty

Central North Island

Hawkes Bay

Gisborne

Taranaki

Manawatu / Wanganui

Wairarapa

Nelson

Marlborough

West Coast

Otago

Queenstown Lakes

Southland

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Auckland region – Property Pulse factsheet – March 2011

Posted on: April 18th, 2011 | Filed in Auckland Property Market Factsheet

The Auckland region property pulse factsheet for March 2011 is published using data from Realestate.co.nz and REINZ (Real Estate Institute of NZ).

Across the Auckland region property sales at 2,387 in the month rose significantly on a seasonally adjusted basis in March and were up 12% on March 2010. The inventory of unsold houses remains just above the long-term average at 38 weeks of equivalent sales.

The stratified mean sales price at $488,083 is up 2% as compared to a year ago and up from the prior 2 months. The asking price expectation of new listings though is also up just 1% as compared to a year ago at $551,720.

The level of new listings coming onto the market in March at 4,073 was up from February but down 11% as compared to a year ago.

In addition top this broad view of the Greater Auckland region each of the separate areas are presented in individual reports

North Shore

Auckland City

Waitakere

Manukau

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Auckland – North Shore, Property Pulse factsheet March 2011

Posted on: April 18th, 2011 | Filed in Auckland Property Market Factsheet

The Auckland North Shore property pulse factsheet for March 2011 is published using data from Realestate.co.nz and REINZ (Real Estate Institute of NZ).

Property sales at 535 in the month rose significantly on a seasonally adjusted basis in March and were up 34% on March 2010. The inventory of unsold houses across the wider Auckland region remains just above the long-term average at 38 weeks of equivalent sales.

The median sales at $550,000 is down 1% as compared to a year ago and up from the prior 2 months. The asking price expectation of new listings across the wider Auckland region is up just 1% as compared to a year ago at $551,720.

The level of new listings coming onto the market in March across the wider Auckland region at 4,073 was up from February but down 11% as compared to a year ago.

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