The traditional springtime rise in residential property sales has failed to materialise so far this year, though the national median price is holding firm at $350,000 according to the latest REINZ monthly house price index.
Across the country residential property sales fell to 3,903 in October from 4,323 sold in September and 4,287 in August. It is the first time residential property transactions have fallen below 4,000 in October for more than a decade, or since the record low of 3,666 sales in January 2010.
"The usual spring influx of listings has been late this year but activity is picking up now and the November figures should be better," said REINZ spokesman Peter Thompson.
The REINZ Monthly Housing Price Index fell by 0.9% to 3161.5 in October and over the three months to October house prices fell by 0.8%. Compared to 12 months earlier, the REINZ Housing Price Index fell 3.5%. Housing prices are 6.5% below their November 2007 peak.
Nationally the total value of residential sales in October, including sections, fell to $1.67 billion.
ASB economist Chris Tennent-Brown highlighted the weak nationwide turnover, down 7.5% month-on-month in seasonally adjusted terms and at its weakest level since November 2008, as one of the key findings in the report.
"Today's REINZ report shows the housing market is particularly weak as [it] enters the typically busy spring period." Tennent-Brown said.
"Annual price declines are in line with our expectations at present, but the very low level of turnover, combined with the current level of inventory presents downside risks to our expectations of annual price declines of around 3%."
Westpac Institutional senior associate Matthew Plowman said the falling house prices were the main factor behind subdued consumer spending.
"Although house sales are now similar or below the levels observed during the 2008/2009 recession, today's market does have a different character. . . Today's market is characterised by more lethargy - there are few sellers and few buyers, " Plowman said.
"Today's data suggests that subdued dynamic has at least a few more months to play."
Across the country Northland saw the median price rise from $300,000 in September to $315,00 in October, 1.6% up on the October 2009 median of $310,000. The number of Northland sales increased from 81 in September to 105 in October, down from the October 2009 figure of 113.
Whangarei saw the median price ease from $333,000 in September to $312,000 in October, down from the October 2009 figure of $361,000. However, sales increased from eight in September to 12 in October, slightly ahead of the 11 sold in October 2009.
Auckland saw the median price climb back to $450,000 in September and up again to $460,000 in October, just over 1% above the median price in October 2009. Sales were down however with 1,360 recorded in October against 1,690 in September and 2,072 in October 2009.
The Waikato/Bay of Plenty/Gisborne region saw median prices fall from $314,324 in September to $305,00 in October, nearly 7% below the October 2009 median of $327,500. Altogether 531 houses were sold, down on the 570 figure for September and 789 sold in October 2009.
Hawkes Bay saw the median price rise from $265,000 in September to $287,521 in October, 5.75 up on the October 2009 median of $272,000. However, total house sales fell from 159 in September to 126 last month, also down on the October 2009 figure of 225.
Manawatu/Wanganui saw the median price recover from $216,500 in September to $232,950 in October, 3.5% up on the October 2009 median of $225,000. Sales stood at 156, down on the 222 sold in September and the 297 recorded in October 2009.
Taranaki saw the median residential property price rise from $269,500 in September to $285,000 in October, taking it to 3.65 above the October 2009 median of $275,000. Sales stood at 112, down on the 132 sales in September and 159 sold in October 2009.
Wellington district saw the residential property price slip back to $390,336 in October from $398,500 in September and $397,500 in August, nearly 6% down on the October 2009 median of $415,000. Sales for the month eased up to 496 from 492 in September but were well down on the 757 sold in October 2009.
The Nelson/Marlborough district saw the median price ease back to $320,000 from $330,000 in September. Sales also fell back last month to 151 from 172 in September and are down on the 206 sales in October 2009.
Canterbury/Westland saw the median price increase from the September figure of $297,500 to $315,000, the same as in August and 1.6% up on the October 2009 median of $310,000. At 533 sales are up on September's 396 but still well below the 980 recorded in October 2009.
The Central Otago Lakes district saw the median price drop 17% from $465,000 in September to $385,000 in October, well down on the October 2009 median of $483,000. Sales were also down at 63 compared with 77 in September and 86 in October 2009.
From $515,000 in August the Queenstown median price fell to $482,500 in September and eased further to $477,500 last month, significantly below the October 2009 median of $555,000. Sales were down at 32 compared with 46 in September and 45 a year ago.
The Otago district saw the median price increase from $230,000 in September to $245,000 last month, up nearly 4.3% on October 2009. Sales stood at 180 last month, down on the 191 sales in September and 247 in October 2009.
The median price continued to slide in Southland from $185,000 in September to $169,500 in October, 6.2% below the October 2009 median of $180,750. Sales fell from 141 in September to 90 last month, also down on the October 2009 figure of 160.
In Invercargill the median price has fallen from $210,000 in August and $189,000 in September to $169,500 last month, also down on the October 2009 median of $186,000. Sales were significantly lower at 68 against 106 in September and 113 in October 2009.