The latest REINZ figures for March 2018 have been released showing there were 659 residential sales in Christchurch for the month. This is a much stronger showing compared to the 558 sales recorded for February, and within striking distance of the 683 sales recorded for March 2017.
As we can see from this result our local market is still strong and steady and not being influenced by the media commentary around other parts of the country. March is typically a strong month for sales year on year, quite simply this is a result of a combination of several factors that occur at this time of year. The tail end of strong market activity following the Christmas/school holiday break, our best settled weather period, plus the additional workload that consultants right across the region undertake so they can finish the financial year on a high. This combination means consultants are working extra hours, running more Open Homes; for the additional stock that typically comes onto the market post-Christmas, thereby creating as many sales opportunities as possible for our clients and customers.
End result, is typically the best sales activity numbers are recorded in March.
Our median sale price is recorded as $460,000 and we have seen this measure hover in and around the $450-460,000 level all year. The stable market conditions as mentioned previously are not creating much in the way of pressure either upward or downward on prices.
REINZ with the assistance of the Reserve Bank, last year created a House Price index (HPI) measurement. Essentially it is a number that represents a very complicated set of market data calculations, while at the same time considering a whole lot of other extraneous information (that only the IT and banking industry understand). This number is calculated each month as the data is made available and provides an indication of what the market trend is, along with the underlying market trend, and the whole lot is expressed as the index.
For Christchurch City the HPI for March last year was 2336, the HPI for February this year was 2350, and for March it is 2354.
What the HPI is telling us is that the underlying trend for our market is still slightly positive, the index is confident that we are in a good steady market and currently indicates to me there is no perceived cause for concern around our local market or where it is heading. There has been no dramatic rise or fall in the index over the last year - another good strong indicator to give the public confidence we are in a steady regular Christchurch market.
In terms of available stock levels, we are seeing no dramatic change in stock levels across the city. RealEstate.co.nz tells us that this month there are currently 2429 available advertised properties on their site. Last month at the time of checking there was 2433, so stock availability is steady (to be expected) as if there was dramatically more or less availability of stock then we would see corresponding movement in prices.
The ‘days to sell’ timeframe has dropped back from last months 47 days to a more realistic 32 days. I believe last month’s anomaly was a combination of fewer Auctions being called in the market and a catch-up from the holiday closure of Solicitors offices, and consequently the time to sell blew out.
Once again, we can advise the market is steady, and I see no reason for it to change dramatically in the near future. This hopefully provides a degree of confidence to the buying public and my advice is that if you are in the market and you see the property that meets your needs, then do what you need to do and can afford, in order to secure it.
There is no expectation of a downturn currently for the market, and if anything from what I hear anecdotally, I expect we will be seeing further interest from people ex-Auckland. This is supported by my colleagues around the country witnessing renewed interest from Auckland buyers looking to relocate. It is situations like this where the power, relationships and strength of the Harcourts brand really come to the fore.
Jim Davis - Christchurch/South Island Regional Manager