The total number of listings across NZ remains very low (even allowing for Winter), and even Auckland is now showing early signs of a tightening in available stock. This low starting point, combined with the further growth we’re seeing in property values, could mean that the Spring uplift in the stock of total listings is a bit stronger than normal. However, any increase is unlikely to be massive, given that low interest rates and unemployment mean almost no forced pressure on anybody to sell.

CoreLogic Senior Property Economist Kelvin Davidson writes:

As Winter starts to (hopefully) ease a little, now is about the time of the year when talk in the property market turns to the health of listings and what sort of pick up is likely as we get into Spring. After all, listings activity plays a key role in the number of actual sales that can be achieved. So what sort of base will the looming upturn for listings be starting from?

In Auckland, although listings are still quite a bit higher than they were at this time of year back in 2015 and 2016, they are at least a fraction lower than they were this time in 2018 (see the first chart). A year-on-year drop in the number of listings in Auckland hasn’t been seen for a while, but this is what you’d expect should be happening – i.e. with confidence subdued and property values gently declining, it makes sense that some vendors who may have just been ‘testing the market’ would delist their properties, and that the normal flow of sales (albeit low) would outweigh any new listings and also help to gradually eat into the existing stock of listings.

Total listings (Source: CoreLogic)

Outside Auckland, the current number of listings matches the previous historically low levels seen in both 2017 and 2018, and nowhere is this tight supply more evident than in Wellington. As the second chart shows, total listings are lower than they’ve been for at least six years, so no surprises to see that property values are still rising steadily in Wellington City and in the wider region (Hutt Valley, Porirua).

Wellington new and total listings (Source: CoreLogic)

However, the flipside of what we’re seeing in Auckland is what you might now think will start to come through more strongly in Wellington – i.e. continued growth in property values would bring some new vendors out of the woodwork and start to push listings up again. There are certainly signs that this type of effect is being seen in Otago, which is another area that’s recently had little property on the market. As the third chart shows, after some tight years for total listings in 2017 and 2018, there’s been a loosening over the past year.

Wellington new and total listings (Source: CoreLogic)

Granted, the rise in total listings in Otago hasn’t been massive yet, and anecdotally any new properties that come onto the market (especially in Dunedin itself) are often snapped up within that week. However, Otago has nevertheless had the largest rise (17%) in total listings over the past year, ahead of Waikato and Northland (both 9%). By contrast, Gisborne, Taranaki, West Coast, and Southland have seen their listings supply tighten over the past year (see the ‘Change 1 year’ column in chart four).

Total listings (Source: CoreLogic)

So where does this leave us? Listings are generally starting from a low level and, with values still rising, it’s likely that we’ll get at least the normal scale of listings uplift over the coming months, perhaps even a bit stronger than normal – with Otago potentially providing a good guide as to what to expect elsewhere (e.g. in Wellington). However, with interest rates and unemployment still low, there’s very little forced pressure on anybody to sell, so a large spike in available listings seems unlikely.