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Sellers’ Confidence On The Rise

Sellers’ Confidence On The Rise

The quantity of houses for sale in January indicates increased buyer positivity, as Sally Lindsay reports.

By: Sally Lindsay

1 March 2024

The average house price in Central Otago’s Lakes District has soared past $1.6 million.

REINZ chief executive Jen Baird is painting a positive picture around the data from January 2024, with 2995 properties sold – an increase of 4.9 per cent compared to last year. Even more positive is the increase in listings, which, she asserts, is a stronger indicator of a market ramp up.

Listings increased by 10.4 per cent nationally year-on-year. The biggest increases compared with previous months were in Wellington (148 per cent), followed by Gisborne (84 per cent), Canterbury (81 per cent), and Auckland at 76.8 per cent.

The total number of properties sold increased in January, rising by 16 per cent year-on-year for all New Zealand, excluding Auckland.

The national median sale price has dropped slightly from December 2023, down 2.5 per cent from $779,830 to $760,000. Year-on-year, there is a slight decline in the national median price by 0.7 per cent from $765,000 to $760,000, while New Zealand, excluding Auckland, is down by 2.1 per cent month-on-month, from $700,000 to $685,000 and up year-on-year by 0.8 per cent, from $680,000 to $685,000.

The data shows regional variation in median sale prices, with Northland topping the scale with a 21 per cent increase month-on-month from $630,000 to $762,000, and a 10.8 per cent increase year-on-year from $687,500 to $762,000. Meanwhile, Auckland’s median sale price has fallen under the $1 million mark again this month, for the fifth time in a year, to $975,000 – however this is still 3.4 per cent more than a year ago.

The house price index (HPI) showed a 0.4 per cent increase compared to the previous month and a 2.2 per cent increase for the same period last year. The average annual growth in the New Zealand HPI over the past five years has been 6.0 per cent per annum, and it is currently 14.4 per cent below the peak of the market in 2021.

Top Prices

In a first for New Zealand, Central Otago Lakes District’s average asking price soared past $1.6 million, setting a national record, realestate.co.nz data shows.

Homes in this renowned pinot noir region are now averaging $1,621,899, marking a significant 19.3 per cent increase from January last year.

Its neighbour, Southland, the second most affordable region in New Zealand, also achieved a 17-year record average asking price high. At $555,173, Southland’s average asking price is about a third of the price sought in Central Otago Lakes District.

A surge of new listings in January pushed total national stock levels of properties for sale on the website back up to 27,261 at the end of the month, from 24,867 at the end of December.

The property website had 7347 new listings in January, up 10.5 per cent compared to January last year.

The number of properties for sale was at its second highest level for the end of January since 2016.

Up were Wairarapa (42.9 per cent), Coromandel (26.4 per cent), Auckland (22.4 per cent), Marlborough (19.0 per cent), Hawkes Bay (18.4 per cent), Manawatu/Whanganui (17.8 per cent), Northland (16.6 per cent), and Central North Island (13.8 per cent).

Conversely, Gisborne, West Coast, and Otago faced their lowest January listings since realestate.co.nz records began 17 years ago, with decreases of 20.5 per cent, 27.1 per cent, and 7.6 per cent, respectively.

Realestate.co.nz spokeswoman Vanessa Williams says the mood of the market is warming after last year’s correction, when the total value of residential property listed was down by $28.6 billion compared to 2022 as prices dropped and vendors paused. 

In 2023, $97,015,251,805 worth of property was put up for sale.

This was a substantial drop of 22.8 per cent from the $125,601,880,575 listed in 2022.

The drop in total value was two-fold, with fewer listings coming onto the market and lower asking prices. 

Around 90,000 properties were newly listed during 2023, a drop of 12.1 per cent on 2022.

It was a year of record new listing lows, with the first seven months and December all recording the lowest number of new listings for the month in 16 years of data. 

Steady But Slow Recovery

Quotable Value’s House Price Index shows the average home increased in value nationally by 2 per cent in the January quarter to $925,461, representing a faster rate of growth than in the three months to the end of December. The national average value is now just 1 per cent less than at the same time last year.

Only Invercargill (-0.6 per cent) posted a small average home value drop, following six consecutive months of growth. Otherwise, 10 of the 16 main urban areas QV monitors had more growth in the index than in the last one, with Queenstown (4.4 per cent), Christchurch (3.4 per cent), and Dunedin (3.1 per cent) experiencing the largest gains on average in the quarter.

QV operations manager James Wilson said the housing data continued to be volatile in some areas of the country where a relatively low number of sales had still been occurring. “It doesn’t take much change in activity to increase or decrease the value performance of some of the less populous regions, but the overall trend is the housing market is slowly but surely strengthening.”

“After a brief stalling in home value growth over the holiday period, it looks increasingly likely that residential property values across the country will broadly continue to follow the same trend they left off in October and November last year, with slow but steady growth overall, as well as a likely uptick in activity throughout February and into March.”

“Outside of our largest cities, I expect that we’ll still see some fluctuations from month to month, with patchy, often variable growth – especially where continued high immigration is less of a factor and activity is low – but once again the overall picture is of a slowly strengthening housing market,” Wilson says.

Apartment resales

CoreLogic’s Pain & Gain Report for the fourth quarter of last year shows about 26 per cent of apartment resales have been at a loss. The median loss on apartments was $36,000.

This contrasts with a median loss of $45,000 for people selling stand-alone houses, but only 6.1 per cent of houses were sold for less than was originally paid for them.

CoreLogic’s chief property economist Kelvin Davidson says while the higher loss figure is a concerning for apartment resellers, this market segment has been much weaker in past cycles.

In Auckland 10 per cent of homes that sold in the fourth quarter were for less than their purchase price, while nationally this figure came in at 6.7 per cent. Across the country, properties selling for a loss were a staggering 18.2 per cent in Carterton, 3.5 per cent in Christchurch and 0.7 per cent in Timaru – the lowest.

In comparison, in 2021’s fourth quarter market peak, just 0.7 per cent of residential sales were at a loss.

Despite these figures, the Pain & Gain Report shows the number of properties being resold for more than the original purchase price rose to 93.3 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from 92.4 per cent in the previous quarter. That marks the first rise in profitable resales since the fourth quarter of 2021, when it hit the peak of 99.3 per cent.

The median gain also increased for the first time since the end of 2021, lifting to $305,000 from $297,000 in Q3. Meanwhile, the median resale loss remained significantly smaller, at $45,000 in the fourth quarter, smaller than $50,000 in the three months prior.

Davidson says the latest figures signal the trough for this measure of housing performance has probably passed.

Auckland’s slow start

Auckland’s property market has made its traditional slow start to the new year, with prices and sales edging below where they were tracking in the final quarter of last year.

Total sales for January at 504, were down 4.1 per cent on December’s number for Barfoot & Thompson, the city’s biggest residential real estate agency.

The median price for the month at $966,500 was down 7.1 per cent on December’s median price and the average price at $1,083,487, was down 8.3 per cent.

Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson says the sales and prices falling below those in December is in line with what has occurred over the past four years.

“It’s a feature of the holiday season, especially when the Auckland region has outstanding weather over the holiday period.”

Sales numbers are normally their lowest for any month of the year in January and it is also the month when only a small number of homes sell in the $2 million plus bracket.

This year was no exception, with only 25 homes selling at the top end of the market, representing only five per cent of the number of properties sold – the lowest number sold for four years in the $2 million-plus market during a January month.

“On the positive side, new listings for the month at 1221 were up 83.3 per cent on those for December and 32.7 per cent ahead of those at the same time last year.”

Tough times ahead

Building consents continue to drop on an annual basis, reflecting tough times ahead for the building sector and a tighter housing market for prospective buyers, Satish Ranchhod, Westpac senior economist says.

Data from Stats NZ shows 39,900 new homes were consented in the year ended October 2023, down 21 per cent compared with the year ended October 2022.

Ranchhod says large increases in interest rates and build costs, and lower home prices, have left prospective buyers feeling nervous about making purchases and developers reluctant to bring new projects to market.

“That widespread downturn in consents over the past year reinforces our expectations for a sharp fall in residential construction in 2024. Those we’ve spoken to in the industry have highlighted a sharp drop in forward orders.”

Rents reach record levels

Auckland’s average weekly rent reached $662.23 in December – the highest year-on-year increase since 2015 when it neared 7 per cent

The increase is up 5.27 per cent on December 2022’s average of $629.09.

The statistics from Barfoot & Thompson’s data are drawn from rents paid across nearly 17,500 Auckland properties managed by the agency, including both existing and new tenancies.

Meanwhile Bay of Plenty rents have overtaken Auckland reaching an all-time high, of $670 per week. The Western Bay of Plenty surged by 14.2 per cent, and Tauranga rose by 7.7 per cent, TradeMe’s latest rental price index shows. The national median weekly rent has rose to $625 in December.

Barfoot & Thompson’s property management general manager Samantha Arnold says after several years of relatively slow and steady movement, of about 2.5-3 per cent year-on-year, the average weekly rent shifted up a gear last quarter, when it rose 4.44 per cent for September year-on-year.

“That was the first time in five years that the average rent rose above 4 per cent and it appears it may have marked the start of a new pricing cycle.”

“Supply also remains constrained. There are too few rental properties available, and we are seeing a slightly lower turnover as tenants seek to avoid the added costs of moving and landlords seek the security of longer-term tenancies.”

Also at play in the overall figure was a rebound in rents in central Auckland’s CBD apartment market. CBD apartments recorded the biggest increase in weekly rents in December, with the average up 9.91 per cent year-on-year.

This means a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre cost nearly $40 more per week, and a two-bedroom apartment more than $56 more per week, than in December 2022.

What's Driving House Prices?


REINZ data show January’s national median sale price dropped slightly from December 2023, down 2.5 per cent from $779,830 to $760,000. Year-on-year, there is a slight decline in the national median price by 0.7 per cent from $765,000 to $760,000, while New Zealand, excluding Auckland, is down by 2.1 per cent month-on-month, from $700,000 to $685,000 and up year-on-year by 0.8 per cent, from $680,000 to $685,000.


The Reserve Bank’s official cash rate has been held at 5.5 per cent since July last year after the RBNZ indicated it was at the end of its tightening cycle. It is not expecting to make changes until next year.


Despite a rise in wholesale rates, Westpac has become the first major bank to cut fixed mortgage rates. Its one, three, four and five-year rates have been dropped by 0.10 basis points. The one-year rate sits at 7.29 per cent and three-year rate at 6.65 per cent. Smaller bank Heartland has dropped its rates even further and its one year-rate has been cut by 0.30 basis points to 6.69 per cent and the three-year rate is down 0.46 basis points to 6.19 per cent.


The number of new homes consented in December was down 25 per cent compared to December last year. Across the board, 37,239 new dwellings of all types were consented for the year to December and 2,849 new homes comprising 1,095 stand-alone houses, 1,128 townhouses, flats, and units, 161 apartments and 103 retirement village units, where consented in the month.


December’s new mortgage commitments were $5.3 billion, down 18.9 per cent from $6.5 billion in November, but up 3.6 per cent on an annual basis. An increase in the value of new mortgages compared with the same month a year prior has now been recorded for five consecutive months. Lending to investors in December fell by 2.1 per cent and owner occupiers by 0.4 per cent, while lending to first home buyers increased by 20.2 per cent compared to the year prior. New mortgages to first home buyers dropped to $1,335 billion from $1,588 billion in November, while lending to investors fell to $894 million from $1,138 billion in November. The average value of new mortgages across all borrower types fell 4.4 per cent to $353,500 from $369,400 in November. The share of the value of new mortgages for property purchases increased to 66.9 per cent, up from to 64 per cent in November. Meanwhile, the share for top-ups fell by 8.4 per cent on a year ago.


The 254,700 migrant arrivals and 128,700 migrant departures in the December 2023 year are, provisionally, the highest on record for an annual period. The long-term average for December years (pre-COVID 2002–2019) is 121,300 migrant arrivals and 92,300 migrant departures.