Barfoot & Thompson's December result reveals low sales volumes and very low new listings signed up. But average and median prices are holding up as fewer buyers are meeting seller expectations

Auckland’s major real estate sales agency, Barfoot & Thompson, had a very restrained December.

They sold only 674 properties, the lowest December level in seven years, and well below the average December sales for that period of 836.

And they signed up just 571 new listings in the month, the lowest for any month since data is available in 2001.

But thin trading has not impacted selling prices yet.

The average selling price in December was $939,871, or +2.9% above the same month a year ago. It was also +2.9% above the November average.

The median selling price in December was $870,000, or +3.6% above the same month a year ago. It was +4.8% higher than for November 2017.

Agency boss Peter Thompson said: “The sense of urgency to buy a property regardless of its asking price has disappeared.

“Undoubtedly, the measures progressively introduced by the Reserve Bank, a more prudent approach to mortgage lending by the trading banks and a growing apprehension among buyers as to the prices being paid all played their part in cooling the market.”

Sales in the higher-priced neighbourhoods are keeping the averages up.

Thompson noted: “In 2017 8.9% of all homes sold were for less than $500,000. In 2016 the comparative percentage was 11.1% and in 2015 14.9%. In 2017 37% of all homes sold were for in excess of $1 million. The comparative figure in 2016 was 35.4% and in 2015 29.1%.”

This low result caps a very average year for the firm. They sold only 8,947 properties in 2017, down -24.7% from the number sold in 2016, and -34.6% less than in 2015. In fact, 2017 saw their lowest sales volumes since 2010.

But they are chock full of listings. They ended the year with 4,160 listing, the highest level since 2010. But this is nowhere near a record; that was the 7,538 available listings in March 2001.

Dropouts – the listings that never sell – reached 8,285 in 2017, a rate of 45.7% of all new listings they took in in the year. This compares with 33.9% in 2016 and represents a key indicator of how tough it has been for real estate agents in 2017.

As Thompson noted, seller expectations have been held up by the Auckland Council rating valuations. But it is also clear that buyers “are taking a more considered approach”, as Thompson puts it. Which is a nice way of saying sharply fewer buyers are prepared to pay those sorts of prices. The number who do are dwindling quickly.

Today’s data confirms there has been no Spring selling season bounce in 2017. Sales in the four months October to December at Barfoots totaled 2,723. In the previous four months – May to August – they totaled 3,265. Rather than a bounce, there was a dip.

Barfoots now have 31.1 weeks of inventory on their books at current sales rates, the highest in almost six years.

Barfoot Auckland

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