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Barfoot breaks records for Auckland home sales in March

Auckland house sales volume and average prices rose to a record last month, with buyers undeterred by soaring prices in the face of relatively low borrowing costs, according to Barfoot & Thompson, the city's largest real estate agency.

The average sale price rose 3.9 percent from February to $776,729, beating the previous record set in December by $17,000, it said in a statement. The 1,597 homes sold in March was a monthly record for the firm.

The Barfoot monthly numbers follow Quotable Value's data last week which showed a 13.9 percent jump in residential property values in Auckland, driving a 7.7 percent gain in national values in the past year, the fastest pace in nine months. The Reserve Bank has cited Auckland's overheated property market, where supply lags behind population growth-driven demand, as a key risk to New Zealand's financial stability.

Buyers remain convinced that with a stable economy, low interest rates and restricted housing availability, buying at current prices is manageable," said the firm's managing director, Peter Thompson.

Sales in March included 420 homes for more than $1 million, up from 253 in the same month last year.

The 1,997 new listings in March was the highest in 17 months and probably reflected home owners being encouraged to come to market because of current high prices, the firm said. At the end of the month, listings were at a 10-month high of 3,347.

National property values rose 7.7 percent over the past year, accelerating from the 6.4 percent increase in February, and at the fastest pace since last June, according to state-owned valuer QV. Auckland, the country's most populous and fastest growing city, led the index higher, with property values advancing 13.9 percent, ahead of the 13 percent rise the previous month.