Early signs Manawatu/Whanganui’s housing shortage could be easing have evaporated, leaving the region’s market like a grocery store with bare shelves.
Figures from property website realestate.co.nz show the number of houses for sale in Manawatu/Whanganui plummeted 40.3 per cent in the 12 months up to April.
The Wairarapa was the only region to experience a bigger drop in housing stock, falling 47.1 per cent over the same period, but every region in the country was feeling the pinch. Only Auckland had an increase in the total number of property listings, and 12 regions saw a drop of 25 per cent or more.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand spokesman Andy Stewart said the region’s real estate agents were reporting fewer new listings coming in across the board, and houses were selling faster than they were coming in.
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“It ain’t easy. It’s like running a grocery store without anything on the shelves,” Stewart said.
There seemed to be early signs the region’s housing shortage was easing, when Manawatu/Whanganui had the country’s highest annual growth in listings in November, with 602 houses listed that month.
Stewart hoped the growth would continue. It could have changed the dynamics of the market, and encouraged new listings from people who were hesitant to sell their house while they were unsure they could get a new one.
It would have reversed a two-year period of critically low housing stocks, but it didn’t pan out.
If no new houses were listed, Manawatu/Whanganui’s supply would sell out in 11 weeks, one third of the time it would normally take.
Stewart said March was a particularly strong month for sales, taking another large bite out of the supply. REINZ figures showed there were 155 homes sold in Palmerston North alone, the city’s highest number of sales in a single month since April 2008.
And with new listings down 8.1 per cent on last April, only 444 houses came on the market in the region last month.
“I don’t see any way this will resolve this year.
But the outlook wasn’t unrelentingly bleak.
Realestate.co.nz spokeswoman Vanessa Taylor said the drop could be partly explained by external factors, such as settling down from last year’s highly volatile market into a much more stable market in 2017.
Winter did usually see house stocks tighten. And on top of that, April had several public holidays and the school break, so some people may have delayed listing their houses while they went on holiday.
Palmerston North City Council city planner David Murphy said rebuilding the city’s housing supply would take time, but the council was working to ease the way with its long-term planning.
“The Government has put a strong onus on local councils to increase the supply of residential land, [and] we’re conscious of the need to be proactive with our planning.”
The council had worked towards the “intensification” of Palmerston North housing, in addition to the new homes popping up in subdivisions on the city’s edge – such as the Whakarongo development, between Stoney Creek and James Line, expected to provide 600 new homes.