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NZ house sales rise from 26-year low; prices steady: REINZ

Friday 10th October 2008

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New Zealand house sales rose from a 26-year low in September and the median price was unchanged, reflecting a seasonal pick-up with the arrival of warmer weather.

Some 4,499 houses sold last month, the Real Estate Institute said in a statement. The national median house price was steady at NZ$330,000.

"The relatively small increase in the number of properties sold indicates a slight degree of recovery, but that is what we would expect in a spring market after a harsh winter," REINZ president Mike Elford said.

The average number of days to sell a house fell to 52 from 55 in August, the second monthly decline. Still, houses on average sold in 32 days in September 2007, the institute said. Some property owners may be holding off selling because they don't' want to realize a loss of value on their property, Elford said.

They may also be waiting for the central bank to extend its cuts to the official cash rate, in the hope that it will drive down mortgage rates and make it easier for people to fund property investments. The Reserve Bank will probably cut the OCR by at least 50 basis points on Oct. 23, with some economists predicting a reduction of 100 basis points.

The median house price in Auckland fell to NZ$420,000 last month from NZ$423, 500 in August, the REINZ said. In the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions the median price fell to NZ$314, 350 from NZ$316,000.

Wellington's median house price dropped to NZ$350,000 from NZ$375,000.

By Jonathan Underhill

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