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After a busy March, more listings to come in April & May

March was another huge month of listings and sales, but what's ahead in April and May?

8 April 2021

17 Javelin Close, Gulf Harbour, Auckland

Listings and sales were at record volumes in Auckland during March among the big real estate agencies. So, what’s in store for the traditionally slower autumnal months of April and May? Can that momentum be maintained?

April is historically a month where listings and activity slow as people go away on school holidays, and April 2021 is complicated by having two two long weekends bookending the month. But those in charge at the real estate agencies don’t see any signs of buyer demand abating, as few Kiwis are going to be travelling overseas over the school vacation. The trans-Tasman travel bubble announcement has come a bit late to alter that.

According to the big agencies, the number of Auckland listings were well up in March. Barfoot & Thompson cited March 2021 as the strongest trading month in the company’s history, with 2,138 new listings, around 25% higher than the agency would normally have at that time of year.

“It gave buyers greater options than have been available for some months and they were quick to take advantage,” says Barfoot’s Managing Director, Peter Thompson.

Ray White, meanwhile, reported a personal-best month nationwide, with sales in March of $2.249 billion, almost 100% ahead of March 2020, while inventory of residential listings increased by 28.4% nationwide.

The real estate firm which says it stepped up its Auckland market share to 34.3% in March, continues to see housing stock rise in the city, its inventory in early April is 5% up on the same time last month, it says.

“I don’t see any issue with the supply side, if anything, it’s been a bit more, but sales numbers have picked up,” says Carey Smith, CEO of Ray White.

For those who are upselling in their neighbourhoods, wanting to upgrade from a nice villa in Grey Lynn to one in Herne Bay, for instance, there’s not a lack of stock in that area, adds Carey.

Strong buyer demand likely to stay constant

Harcourts managing director, Bryan Thomson says one of the fallacies peddled around the real estate market is the shortage of listings, but he says it’s not true.

“In Auckland we listed 28% more homes in March than last year which was very busy,” he says.

The current buyer demand has strengthened significantly, driven by historically low interest rates and the $10 billion that has stayed in the economy due to the absence of travel options. The economy and employment market have also helped buyer sentiment by being relatively strong, says Bryan.

The Harcourts managing director, meanwhile, is optimistic about the buying and selling activity coming up in the next few months.

“The stock’s come forward pretty well in March which means April will go okay. We’re still seeing very good demand at auctions and open homes so we would expect things to still be running along,” he says.

Bryan doesn’t expect to see any change in the demand in the coming few months. If listings keep coming forward, the demand is there to purchase, he says.

A steady flow of home appraisals a good sign

Boutique firms like UP Real Estate were catching their breath in early April. Director, Barry Thom says: “In March we cleaned out the cupboards. We were selling at three times the rate we were listing, and when you have that happen, it takes a bit to start again.”

Having said that, the firm has just listed several homes at the upper end of the market, which will attract good attention, he says: “My view is the buyers haven’t gone away. They’re not going to Fiji, they’re around,” he adds.

58 Nottingham Street, Westmere, Auckland

For Professionals Real Estate Group, with sales considerably up in March nationwide, listings are continuing to be strong into April, particularly in Auckland, says Chief Executive, Shaun Taylor.

He expects the low interest rates and the strong demand to maintain the “sellers’ market.” “Long term we expect home values to continue to increase but at a slower rate for the remainder of the year,” he says.

Momentum for listings activity still on-going

The message from Bayleys National Director of Residential, Johnny Sinclair, is that listings for Auckland will continue through April and May. Conferring with his colleagues this week, he says, the pipeline of listings was still very positive. “There’s still activity in the market leading into April and May, the momentum is still going,” he says.

For buyers, the good news is that vendors are being realistic about prices, he says. They’re not expecting absolute premiums, the market has normalised, he believes.

If you’re going to a more expensive home, you can be confident that the values have now stabilised and you’re not buying in a market that’s still going up (and up) in value, he says.

To buyers wanting to find a property before selling their own home, one solution is to ask for a more generous settlement period when buying, he suggests. One thing people can do is ask for a four to six month settlement, giving themselves time to sell. Johnny himself bought in December and is moving into his new house at the end of May.

More listings to come later in April, says Ray White Mt Eden

Buyers may have to be patient during the school holidays for family homes in Mt Eden, says Jared Cooksley, director of Ray White Mt Eden, the number 5 best-performing office in the country.

137 Peary Road, Mount Eden, Auckland

The larger family homes are more likely to come on immediately after the vacation and into May, and the number of listings will be up on previous years. Properties in the sub-$1 million mark, in areas like Avondale and the city fringe, will not be affected by April’s school holidays and are continuing to come on, says Jared.

At the same time, the Ray White Mt Eden director says he’s been heartened by the number of appraisals being requested. People are asking for appraisals with the intention of bringing their home to the market in two, three or four months’ time, he notes. Late last year, people were asking for appraisals and then putting the home on the market two weeks later, he says.

It’s good to talk to an agent early about your selling intentions, he suggests. “The longer you know what’s happening, the more it gives you confidence to come to the market,” he says.

Very good buyer engagement likely to drive the market

It remains a very tempting time to sell your home if you have somewhere to move next. According to Chris Jones, Auckland Central General Manager at NZ Sotheby’s International Realty, there are still a lot of very good prices being achieved and very good buyer engagement, particularly at auction, in the current Auckland market.

In the mid to high end of homes, the activity should continue over the coming months, he predicts.

“People are making real estate decisions for lifestyle reasons. It’s a very good time to come to the market because there’s a lot of buyer inquiry and demand out there,” he says.

Chris says he’s not sure the opening of the travel bubble with Australia will slow things down in the property market. It could have the opposite effect, he says.

He doesn’t see demand dropping. “As long as you’ve got five people at an auction, and you all see value in the home, you have a market.”

What the winter months will bring

Looking beyond April and May, the general thinking is the buying and selling activity won’t stop with winter either.

The winter selling season wasn’t it’s normal quiet self last year as home owners and buyers responded to coming out of Covid lockdown.

“The real estate market is more of a 12 month market. The winter months will continue to be steady I think, I don’t think there will be much of a decline,” says Ray White’s Carey Smith.