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Auckland house prices stabilise after rapid increase as more properties listed, Barfoot says

Wednesday 4th September 2013

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Auckland house prices have stabilised following a rapid increase in the first quarter of this year, as more properties are listed, according to Barfoot & Thompson, the city's biggest realtor.

The average sale price slipped 1 percent to $647,647 in August from July and is 0.4 percent lower than June, the firm said. The median price in August fell 4 percent to $561,500 from July and is 4.8 percent down from June. New listings rose 4.5 percent in August, making it the second-biggest month this year.

"After a rapid increase in the first quarter of the year, prices have settled down and there has been no upward pressure on prices for the past two months, " Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson said in a statement. "It added up to an extremely active market, but with prices restrained."

A shortage of houses in Auckland, the nation's biggest city, has spurred the government to introduce legislation that would fast-track developments and create special housing areas. Meanwhile, fears of a house price bubble threatening financial stability have prompted the central bank to restrict low equity mortgage lending.

"We have possibly seen the first sign that the pressure on the Auckland housing market is easing," Westpac Banking Corp. New Zealand chief economist Dominick Stephens said in a note. "This is a step in the right direction for those who are concerned that house prices are rising too quickly, but it is only a small step."

More evidence of elevated listings over coming months is needed for confirmation that the market has normalised, Stephens said.

At the end of August, Barfoot & Thompson had 2,999 properties on its books, the highest level for three months, the company said.

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