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Listing surge or playing catch-up; What’s behind the boost in for-sale sign numbers?

If it feels like you’re seeing more real estate signage around your neighbourhood lately, you’d be right. The number of new listings has been soaring since the start of the year, with a 44.8% increase nationally in February compared with 2023.

Recent realestate.co.nz figures revealed new listings were up across all 19 regions, with the most significant in Northland (up 94.6%), Coromandel (up 85.3%), Wellington (up 76.6%), Hawke’s Bay (up 75.4%) and Auckland (up 64.0%).

WHO’S LISTING?

Bayleys Residential GM Raymond Mountfort says the listing increase was sudden, with the market playing “catch-up” and “returning to baseline levels” after a slow year.

“It was like the flick of a switch. If you look at it over the whole year, we were running quite down on listings. So there was a lot of pent up demand.”

He says over the last year the market was down about 10% on listings, and up 20% on sales volumes.

“It was a funny market, and trying to convince vendors that was what the market was doing wasn't easy. But when they did come to the realisation, it was quite sudden.”

That sudden boost also came with a big motivation to move properties on.

“Vendors were willing to spend on marketing. They were investing in campaigns, they had clear goals to sell, they’d waited, and now the time was right”

But it wasn’t just the cost of living prompting vendors to list.

“No doubt there is pressure, but I think that pressure is always there and a lot of those listings were probably what was coming to the market anyway. I think the big increase was people coming to the market for a lifestyle reason - whether that’s a new job, a baby or a relocation.”

Mountfort prefers to focus on the number of vendors investing in marketing campaigns, as opposed to just listing numbers overall. He says those numbers of campaigns were 52% higher across the January, February, March quarter compared to the same time last year.

“People putting their property into a campaign are often not negatively motivated. If you're talking about a sale under pressure, those people are usually hoping that it will sell without investing in marketing.”

The Reserve Bank’s decision to hold the OCR steady at 5.5% has also provided some certainty for both vendors and buyers.

“We’ve never run as many open homes per week, as we did through the weeks in February. But we also had a massive attendance.”

“So it wasn’t just vendors, it was actually the buyer market that activated in February as well.

POWER SHIFT

While both sides of the market have seen an increase this year, Mountfort says it’s definitely a great time to be a buyer.

“You've not only got a choice, you also have the ability to make a lot of comparisons between properties. When you're looking at several, you can weigh up the pros and cons, and be more discerning.”

“I think that it's one of those situations where the power has swung slightly, and vendors need to be aware that buyers have choice.”

With more choice many buyers are more likely to stick to their budget and move onto another property if the one they’re interested in isn’t affordable. However Mountfort believes that right now, many vendors and buyers are still meeting halfway.

“With the number of transactions that are happening there’s still a meeting of minds. In terms of deal numbers and deal numbers irrespective of price, we’re 20% ahead of last year.”

And even if some vendors have overpriced, it’s never too late to adjust the numbers.

“There is a risk that they’ll factor too much positivity into the market. But with the benefit of feedback, they can adjust. So the fact that good numbers are attending their open homes, they're getting feedback, the market is talking to them, they have that ability to change.”

WHAT TO EXPECT?

Insights gathered from our Bayleys agents reveal 62% believe the property market is getting stronger compared to three months ago, and 69% say market conditions right now are neutral.

Raymond Mountfort says he’s reasonably optimistic about the financial year ahead.

“The market’s going to be slightly better in real numbers, we're not really sure that will translate through to an increase in sale price though.”

“But we do see that = transaction numbers will build a little bit on what they have been in this last year.”

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