4 Feb 2014

Housing moving to buyers' market

6:59 am on 4 February 2014

Another property report shows there is a slowdown in the market, with houses taking longer to sell.

The Real Estate Institute's website, which accounts for more than 97 percent of listings of houses available for sale, shows the inventory of unsold houses rose 2 percent last month - to 26.8 weeks - compared with December.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said the market was slowly moving away from being a sellers' market.

"The nub of this report is that the inventory of unsold properties continues to gradually rise and that, to me, indicates that the housing market is continuing to gradually slow," Mr Stephens said.

"During a very tight housing market you see inventory gets down to quite low levels, and what we've seen over the last few months is the number of weeks worth of house sales sitting on the market at any one time is steadily rising."

However, new listings are rising, up 16 percent month-on-month to 9267 new properties on the market.

Mr Stephens said new data was needed before what that meant could be assessed but maintained the market was "creeping" in the direction of being a buyers' markets.

Two things were contributing to that - the Reserve Bank had imposed restrictions on low-deposit lending and interest rates were expected to rise from next month.

"I think that that message has gotten through wide and far across New Zealand, so most people are now convinced of that and, again, higher interest rates is probably something that's just put a bit of doubt into people's minds about the future of the housing market in New Zealand," Mr Stephens said.