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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Christchurch housing market 'getting on with it'

Christchurch housing market 'getting on with it'

Last updated 11:18 01/04/2011
 
The real estate industry is seeing signs of resilience in the Christchurch property market following the devastating February 22 earthquake, although nationwide the inventory of houses for sale topped one year.

In March, the number of new listings in Canterbury was 36 percent lower than a year earlier, while for the rest of the country the decline was 11 percent, according to industry website Realestate.co.nz.

The 1297 new properties that came onto the Canterbury market in March was 10 percent up from the previous month.

Realestate.co.nz chief executive Alistair Helm said that while Canterbury's listings were down an annual 36 percent, the figures showed business and people were already picking themselves up and working to resume some state of normality.

"Property is still being listed, marketed, viewed online, researched, inquired about, negotiated and sold," Mr Helm said.

The truncated mean asking price for Canterbury homes was down 2 percent from the previous month to $357,986, while the inventory of unsold homes rose to 41.2 weeks, up 7 percent from a year earlier and up 16 percent from February.

Nearly 1400 people worked in real estate in the Canterbury region, operating from 120 offices, 87 of which were based in Christchurch, Mr Helm said.

"While there was some damage to a number of real estate offices in the city, many have found temporary offices or consolidated operations in an existing office that hasn't been affected."

Nationally, the 12,247 new listings in March was 8 percent up on the previous month, but still 15 percent down on the number of listings at the same time last year.

With sales remaining low, the national inventory of unsold homes rose to 53 weeks - close to the highest level ever recorded. The average asking price also crept up 2 percent to $421,940, just 1.7 percent below the market peak of October 2007.

While there was traditionally a surge of new listings at this time of year, the latest figures were the lowest March numbers recorded by Realestate.co.nz in three years, Mr Helm said.

Realestate.co.nz's latest NZ Property Report, published today, showed the inventory in Auckland up 1 percent from a month earlier but 2 percent down on a year earlier at 38 weeks, and in Wellington the inventory was 27.9 weeks.

In provincial New Zealand - which excludes Auckland, Wellington, and Canterbury - the inventory level reached a peak of 76.7 weeks, compared with 36.6 weeks in metropolitan areas.

Given the high level of inventory, matched to slow levels of new listings it was becoming clear that the high asking price was more likely to be the result of keen interest focused purely on new listings, the report said.

Older listings were being left somewhat languishing on the shelf at what could be unrealistic prices, or with a presentation that needed refreshing to attract buyers.

- NZPA

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