This September saw a 21.1% rise in sales on the year earlier, but just 43 extra sales than August 2011, “a modest result given the lift usually expected during spring.”
The latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) housing market data also revealed that when adjusted for the seasonal pattern expected at this time of year, the volumes are approximately 2.3% weaker.
The national median house price eased by $5,000 to $350,000 (-1.4%) in September compared to August and is flat compared to a year earlier.
"The volume data indicates that the New Zealand real estate market is in better shape when compared with this time last year and with volumes up over 20% compared to September last year and a continued reduction in the number of days to sell," said REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan.
"That improvement is flattening out with a weaker than usual seasonal lift from August volumes. There is clear evidence from across the country that buyers are very focused on value and are well informed about what they can afford and are prepared to pay."
While national totals show an increase in sales, regional markets saw considerable volatility.
Northland saw the strongest rise in volumes compared to August, up 30%. Otago saw the next strongest increase (12.7%), followed by Manawatu/Wanganui (12.4%).
The largest drop in sales was seen in Wellington, down 9.3%, followed by Taranaki (-7.9%) and Waikato/Bay of Plenty (-6.5%).
Volumes in the Auckland market were just 1.5% above August, relatively flat given the seasonal life usually seen at this time of year.
The strongest rise in prices was seen in Hawkes Bay, up 8.3%, followed by Auckland (4.9%), Wellington (4.1%) and Nelson/Marlborough (1.9%).
Compared to September 2010, Auckland recorded the strongest lift in prices, up 5.6%, followed by Canterbury/Westland (4.7%) and Hawkes Bay (2.2%).
Nationwide, the median days to sell improved by two days from 39 days in August to 37 days in September. The days to sell stood at 43 days in September 2010.
Auckland again recorded the shortest days to sell at 32 days, followed by Otago and Southland at 36 days, with Wellington and Canterbury/Westland next with 38 days.
Taranaki and Central Otago Lakes recorded the longest number of days to sell at 79 days followed by Northland at 56 days.
"We're seeing a very interesting market with listings improving though still reported as tight, plenty of buyer interest but only on a very rational basis - there is no appetite on the part of buyers to overpay or rush to purchase," said O'Sullivan.
"We are continuing to see the national median house price move in a range between $345,000 and $365,000 as it has done for about the last two years, with no strong driver for change in either direction."