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Auckland house sales drop in August

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/09/2016 Paul McBeth

The number of house sales in Auckland dropped by more than a quarter in August from a year earlier with stricter mortgage lending practices compressing activity, Barfoot & Thompson says.

Sales fell 3 per cent to 1,003 in August compared to July, and were down 26 per cent from the same month a year earlier, the city's biggest realtor said.

Still, the median sale price increased 1.2 per cent to $850,000 from a month prior and was 13 per cent higher than a year earlier.

"The continued rise in prices with lower sales indicates that new regulations requiring investors to have greater equity than previously, which the trading banks enforced at the start of August, has had a limited impact on prices but may have affected sales numbers," managing director Peter Thompson said.

"The real test where prices are heading will come this month with the arrival of spring."

The Reserve Bank plans to extend mortgage lending restrictions on Auckland property investors to the rest of the country, making them more onerous by requiring a bigger deposit and reintroducing a uniform national cap on highly leveraged owner-occupier mortgages.

The proposed changes, which have been adopted early by the major banks, would cap property investor loans with less than 40 per cent as a deposit to just 5 per cent of lending and restrict owner-occupiers with less than a fifth down to 10 per cent.

The central bank is trying to curb demand for property where prices have soared at a faster rate than wages, leaving households with larger mortgages and making housing less affordable for people on modest incomes.

A lack of housing in Auckland combined with record migration and low interest rates have stoked the rapid jump in prices over the past few

ASB Bank economist Kim Mundy said the surge in new listings indicated people were rushing to sell their properties before the new rules officially come into effect, though "total inventory levels remain near record lows and the market still has a long way to go before demand and supply are back in line."

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