New Zealand house sales fell 9.9 per cent and took a day longer to sell in March, compared to a year earlier, as a cooling Auckland property market continued to weigh on the national outlook.
Auckland houses (file picture).
The number of houses sold fell to 7768 in March from 8622 a year earlier, with Auckland sale numbers down 12 per cent to 2386, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand said in a statement.
The median number of days to sell increased to 34 days from 33 days a year earlier, with Auckland at 36 days.
"While at face value this looks like a low number, March 2017 was an extremely strong month in terms of the number of properties sold," chief executive Bindi Norwell said.
"Whilst the seasonally adjusted figure was also down by 7.8 per cent year-on-year, this is just one month's worth of data following two solid months of sales, so we're not overly concerned about this month's volume."
New Zealand's property market has been slowing over the past year as efforts by policymakers to cool rapid gains with restrictions on highly-leveraged lending started to bite.
At the same time, tougher credit criteria imposed by lenders to address the mismatch between supply and demand have been making small inroads in the gap.
While activity has been slowing, prices remain strong, with the house price index rising 4.2 per cent to 2710, a new record high.
Excluding Auckland, the index climbed 7.2 per cent, outpacing a one per cent increase in the country's biggest city.
The national median sale price rose 1.8 per cent to $560,000 in March from a year earlier with record levels in Gisborne, up 18 per cent to $330,000, Hawke's Bay, up 12 per cent to $445,0000, and Wellington up 10 per cent to $583,000.
Auckland's median sale price fell 2.2 per cent to $880,000.
The national inventory increased one per cent to 26,742, with a 14 per cent increase in Nelson, a nine per cent expansion in Waikato and a 6 per cent rise in Auckland.
The bottom end of the market accounted for a smaller proportion of sales in the month, with houses sold for less than $500,000 at 41.9 per cent of all sales, down from 44.2 per cent a year earlier.
The top end of the market shrank a little, with $1 million-plus property sales accounting for 15.4 per cent, compared to 15.9 per cent a year earlier.