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December house prices climb steeply

Published: 10:39AM Monday January 18, 2010 Source: ONE News / NZPA

The national median house price rose 9.6% in December 2009 compared with the same month the year before, a record high for that time of the year, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ).

The median price last month was $360,000 compared with $328,500 in December 2008, and rose in 11 out of the 12 districts nationwide.

REINZ says the biggest increases were in the Nelson/Marlborough region - which saw median prices climb 14.5% to $343,500 - Southland, which rose 10.8% to $184,000, and Hawke's Bay which was up 9.4% to $290,000.

Of the 12 regions, just Northland declined, with median prices down a little over 2% to $306,000.

The median house price for December was also up 1.4% on November.

REINZ president Peter McDonald says even though fewer than 5,000 properties were sold in December, they were "well sought after", taking a median of 33 days to sell - one of the shortest sale times of the year.

Despite the rise in the median price last month, the REINZ's monthly housing price index fell 0.9%.

The index, considered more likely to reflect genuine property price movements, was up 2.8% for the three months to December, and rose 6.4% from a year earlier.

Auckland sales of $918 million accounted for most of the $2.15 million overall house sales nationwide during the month.

The Canterbury/Westland and Waikato/Bay of Plenty regions recorded the next greatest sales values at $283 million and $272 million respectively, while Wellington sold $253 million of houses.

Most houses sold were in the lower end of the market with 2,886 houses sold in the under-$400,000 range. This compares with 1,289 for $400,000 - $599,999, 617 for $600,000 - $999,999 and 165 for the over-$1 million price brackets.

House prices are now around 4% below their peak in late 2007.