Otago chalked up one of the highest monthly house price gains in the country for March, with prices up 11% to $405,500, while nationally the median price struck a record high of $560,000.

A lack of investors around Queenstown has left the area's median price at its lowest level in seven months - $885,000.

Nationally, median house prices rose 1.8% in March against a year ago, rising to $560,000, according to data from the real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said three regions achieved record prices. Gisborne was up 17.9% to $330,000, Hawke's Bay up 11.7% to $445,000 and Wellington up 10% to $583,000. Otago saw a strong increase in its 11.1% gain to $405,500.

''Looking at the whole country, median house prices increased in 13 out of 16 regions. The only regions not to experience an increase were Northland, Auckland and Taranaki,'' she said in a statement.

National volumes declined by 9.9%, from 8622 in March last year to 7768. March last year had the highest volumes of any month in 2017.

ASB economist Kim Mundy said housing market activity had continued to be volatile and no clear direction was emerging.

''Price continue to firm outside of Auckland and regional New Zealand appears to be enjoying its time in the spotlight with strong annual price growth,'' she said.

REINZ regional commentator Liz Nidd said prices were ''strong'' across the Dunedin market, ranging from small flats to spacious homes.

Otago housing volumes were down 19% from 502 sales a year ago to 406, while in Dunedin they dropped 11.4% from 272 to 241.

Mrs Nidd said the number of first-home buyers in the market was the same as in February, but there was not the same urgency in the market.

''There are still plenty of buyers and they are prepared to wait for what they really want,'' she said.

Anecdotally, well-presented properties had attracted multiple offers and exceeded market value, she said.

Mrs Nidd said there was a shortage of rental properties around Dunedin, in the $250-$350-per-week range.

She said investors who had been waiting for the market to cool had now started showing interest again as opportunities arose in the market.

In Queenstown, REINZ regional director Gail Hudson said Queenstown's median price, which had eased from $913,000 in February to $855,000 in March, was its lowest in the past seven months.

''This is not entirely surprising, given that investors have nearly disappeared from the market,'' Mrs Hudson said.

She said listings across all categories were in ''very short supply'', noting that there were slightly more first home than in recent times.

She the winter market was historically a quiet time but at present there was even less activity.

Ms Norwell said several regions posted stronger results than some of the major centres, which highlighted the buoyant regional economies.


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