Number of New Zealand Properties Sold Falls Sharply in August

By Ben Collins Features Dow Jones Newswires

WELLINGTON, New Zealand--The number of New Zealand properties sold fell sharply from a year earlier in August.

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The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, or REINZ, said the national median house price rose 8.2% on year in August to NZ$530,000, but the number of properties sold fell 20%.

No region in the country experienced an increase in the number of properties sold during August 2017, which has only happened during three months in the last seven years.

REINZ said the national median house price rose 2.3% in August from July, while the number of properties sold increased 5.3% on month.

The number of days it took to sell a house, a gauge of underlying demand, increased. The median number of days to sell was 37, seven days longer than a year ago.

The REINZ Monthly Housing Index, which uses all sales by REINZ members rather than just a median price, was up 0.5% on year and also up 0.5% from July to August.

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The housing market is one of the major challenges analysts see for New Zealand's economy, especially in Auckland, the commercial capital, where chronic undersupply and high demand, fueled in part by high migration both from overseas and the country's regions, have pushed prices to record levels.

The opposition Labour party, which has hauled itself back into contention under new leader Jacinda Ardern, who took over in August, wants to cut the number of people moving to New Zealand each year by up to 30,000, in part to take the pressure off house prices. Currently, annual net migration to New Zealand, which was a net exporter of jobs and skills as recently as 2012, is about 70,000.

Recent polling show a tight race between the incumbent center-right National party, which has held power for the past nine years, and the main opposition Labour party.

Write to Ben Collins at ben.collins@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 14, 2017 18:02 ET (22:02 GMT)