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Harcourts picks up a pulse in market

Housing market sales during October are down by as much as 46% on the year earlier in some parts of the country, according to the latest Harcourts MarketWatch figures.

New Zealand's largest real estate group found the housing market continues to remain subdued with the normal spring bounce failing to materialise.

"Traditionally there is a lift in the market with the onset of spring and while there were indications a rebound would occur as usual this year, our latest figures show the increase in listings and buyer enquiry has yet to result in a rise in sales to the expected levels," said Harcourts CEO Hayden Duncan.

"In fact as the latest figures released in Harcourts MarketWatch newsletter show, the volume of written sales recorded in October by Harcourts was well down on the same month last year, reflecting the figures released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand recently which showed the lowest October volume of settled sales since their records began in 1992."

The Harcourts figures show written sales are down on October 2009 across the whole country, with the biggest year-on-year fall seen in Wellington, down 46%.

The lowest reduction in written sales was seen in the central North Island, down 23%.

Duncan said that while September and October had been disappointing months, a lift in activity is expected to be evident in November and December figures.

"These months are both typically quite busy in the real estate market as people look to move in time to maximise their enjoyment of the summer months in their new homes," said Duncan.

Harcourts also said one contributory factor to their figures was a large number of transactions rushed through ahead of the October 1 increase in GST.

Duncan cited pent-up demand, income tax cuts and low interest rates as factors improving affordability and prompting optimism for a market pick up.

"Certainly our early November figures and anecdotal feedback suggest activity has increased."

Across the country the MarketWatch report found written sales had fallen 25% in the north of North Island, with the average price down 9%. Harcourts said the average price reduction was a reflection of the fact lower-value homes were beginning to sell again.

Central North Island saw the lowest fall in written sales, down 23%, while the average price slipped 14% in what the company described as a "buyers' market with good opportunities for astute purchasers."

The capital saw the steepest drop off in written sales, down 46%, with the average price off 7%, though it said well priced property continues to sell.

Christchurch is experiencing a faster-than-expected recovery from the earthquake though written sales were still 41% lower than the year earlier, with the average price down 6%.

South Island Provincial saw written sales down 28% though the average price increased 15%.


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