15 Jan 2013

Housing sales up, prices rise

10:27 pm on 15 January 2013

Activity in the residential housing market is at its highest level in six years.

Data from the Real Estate Institute shows the national median house price rose to a new record of $389,000 in December last year, a 9.6% rise on December 2011.

The number of sales rose by 21% to 74,000 while activity picked up in eight regions led by Northland, Auckland and Central Otago Lakes.

REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said sales remain well below the peak of 2003 when more than 120,000 residential properties were sold.

Ms O'Sullivan said the key drivers for 2012 were the Auckland and Canterbury regions, which make up more than half of New Zealand's real estate activity.

She told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Monday that sales volumes are recovering in a number of regions and with mortgage rates the same throughout the country, it makes sense that sales have improved across the board.

Median house prices in nine regions increased year-on-year, but decreased in Hawke's Bay, Taranaki and Southland.

In Auckland, the institute's figures show that sales rose 8% to 5754 properties in December last year, compared with the same month in 2011.