Otago house prices have topped a record $460,000 median price, a gain of almost 20% on last year’s prices.

Dunedin is sitting just shy of $400,000, on a $398,000 median price for April.

The  record comes at a time when Auckland’s median price dipped 0.6%, to $850,000 and the country’s other hot spot, Queenstown Lakes, gained just 0.7% on a year ago, to $950,000.

The 6368 properties sold across the country in April was up  6.6% on a year ago, the largest year on year increase during the past 23 months, data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand showed.

REINZ chief executive Bindy Norwell said the  6.6% increase was pleasing in that three out of four months of 2018 booked  positive year-on-year volume increases "suggesting that the market is in a good position".

"Across the country, 12 out of 16 regions saw a year-on-year increase in the number of properties sold, with seven of those regions experiencing double digit growth highlighting what a strong month April was," Ms Norwell said.

ASB economist Kim Mundy said a decline in annual sales activity appeared to be stabilising. She said smaller regional New Zealand continued "to play catch-up" with their prices, following strong price growth in the country’s larger centres in recent years.

"We expect volatility to remain a key theme in the housing market until greater policy clarity emerges," Ms Mundy said.

The only regions not to see an annual increase in sales numbers were Gisborne, Taranaki, Wellington and Otago; albeit Otago only fell from 377 to 374 houses sold.

REINZ regional commentator Liz Nidd said the increase in Dunedin to just shy of $400,000 was driven by properties in the old Mosgiel-Taieri ward, which booked a 13.4% increase year-on-year to $580,000.

She said Dunedin city was in a "very positive cycle" at present and it was most likely that it had not ended yet.

Vendors thought now was a good time to sell and  open homes were gathering more interest, as buyers  had more choice, she said.

"There appears to be more buyers making cash offers and we are seeing a number of buyers who are cashed up, with very little assistance required from banks."

REINZ regional director Gail Hudson in Queenstown said Queenstown-Lakes appeared to have returned to a stable pricing position following a slight dip in March, which was positive.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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