13 Mar 2013

House sales slow but prices on the rise

7:06 am on 13 March 2013

The annual growth in house sales has slowed but the prices being paid for homes have continued to rise.

The Real Estate Institute says sales were up 7.5% in February 2013 compared to the same period a year ago, with 6,632 sold.

Median house prices for the month rose 3% to average $382,000.

ASB senior economist Jane Turner says prices rose 12% in Auckland and Canterbury due to demand outstripping supply while elsewhere in the country prices were 3.5% higher.

The Reserve Bank has highlighted signs of inflation pressures in parts of the housing market, which it is monitoring, while it is consulting on using other tools such as loan to value ratios to take the heat out of the housing market.

Jane Turner says it's unlikely the central bank will hike interest rates this year, given the high New Zealand dollar and now the drought is weighing on economic activity.

Figures also show it took 39 days to sell a house, three days fewer than the previous month.

The Institute's house price index is up 8 point 1 percent from a year earlier, the fastest annual increase since late 2007.