High demand has created an all-time low in inventory of unsold properties, a new report says.
According the New Zealand Property Report released today, the local property market has rebounded from the seasonal lull in listings over the summer break with 13,145 new listings coming to the market in February.
This is a "healthy and expected increase to listings", and is 2% down from the same time last year, the report says.
New listings for the year since February 2012 are up 4% on the previous 12-month period to 132,236, which shows that vendors are eager to make the most of the tightening market.
Despite the increase in listings, inventory (which is measured by the weeks of equivalent sales left on the market) was down 27% year on year.
Last month, inventory levels were lower in 13 of New Zealand's 19 regions.
This was felt the most in Canterbury, where property inventory fell by 35% compared to the same time last year.
Realestate.co.nz's Paul McKenzie says Canterbury's inventory figure was a record low.
"Inventory levels in Canterbury are at half their long term average of 30 weeks and we expect inventory to remain low while rebuilding projects are completed."
Meanwhile, McKenzie said that the average asking price for properties also remains strong, increasing 1% from last month and 4% from February last year.
The nationwide average asking price for February, $433,734 (seasonally adjusted), was only 1% off the record high set last October.
In particular, Wellington and Central Otago / Lakes experienced record highs in asking price of $453,220 and $642,251 respectively.
Auckland saw its average asking price exceed $600,000 for the third time, while Canterbury's figure surpassed $400,000, for the fourth time.
In repose to the report, ASB senior economist Jane Turner said that the Auckland and Canterbury "markets remain tight".
"As housing demand continues to gradually recover, the imbalance between buyers and sellers will continue to drive prices higher in these regions. The recent lift in building consents is an encouraging sign that new supply is in the pipeline."
"However, a larger and more sustained increase in new house building over 2013 is required in order to have a meaningful impact on Auckland and Canterbury housing constraints," said Turner.
While McKenzie said that he expects to see asking price expectations remain strong well into 2013.
"Although we saw a similar increase in new listings in February last year, the record low in inventory seen in February shows that the market is not slowing down.
"Asking price expectations of vendors are likely to stay above $600,000 in Auckland and above $400,000 in Canterbury for the near future," he said.