Million-dollar properties are in hot demand in Tauranga, with 70 snapped up last year.
Of the 2561 properties sold in the city, an average of more than one a week came with a price tag of $1 million or more.
Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said agents were starting to see more interest in the upper end of the market.
"There is more action in the upper end, although the prices are down as to what they were in 2007."
Last year was a good step in the right direction for the property market, he said.
"There was a 17 per cent lift in the volume of sales in Tauranga alone. It's really across the board, that 17 per cent lift."
Tauranga architect Brendon Gordon thought the number of millor-dollar sales reflected what the Bay had to offer buyers.
"We have some of the nicest coastline and beaches in the world, and nice quality properties to match, which are going to be in demand," he said.
Tauranga also had a lot of big rural properties with good outlooks and amenities, such as swimming pools and tennis courts, he said.
"The property market had flat-lined for the last four years, so it had to get better some time," he said.
Tauranga builder Dave Shaw said the big ticket sales may have been influenced by the high number of residents relocating to Tauranga from Auckland and Christchurch.
"It's pretty good for Tauranga if there has been 70 but I didn't see the property market start to pick up until October or November, December."
However, Mr Shaw said he had seen million-dollar properties in Tauranga, including a number in Mount Maunganui's Marine Parade and Oceanbeach Rd, which had failed to sell.
"I saw a three million dollar property in Oceanbeach Rd advertised this morning [yesterday morning], which was 1200sq m and had an internal swimming pool. At the end of the day, it comes down to finding a buyer for it," he 70 million-dollar properties sold
said. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the market, new home buyers were getting on the property ladder, attracted by record low interest rates.
Buyers snapped up 541 properties in the Western Bay of Plenty territorial local authority in 2012, setting an annual median sale price of $340,000 compared with Tauranga's median of $360,000.
Bayleys Tauranga branch manager Dickie Burman said 2012 was "certainly an improvement on the previous year".
"Obviously, the bulk of the price sales were around that median price range. Prices have remained steady."
Tauranga had not seen the wild fluctuations of other regions, which attracted buyers, he said. "We haven't got the boom and bust scenario."
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said January was traditionally one of the quieter months in real estate, as realtors ended up with half a month's trading due to the holiday season.
The lowest median sales price was recorded in August.
Ms O'Sullivan said Tauranga prices started to increase towards the end of 2012 but the median price rise was "relatively modest" year-on-year.
Mount Maunganui and Papamoa had remained relatively steady through 2012, she said.
"We're starting to see the volumes increase in that area.
"That is a general trend across the entire market. Volumes are starting to pick up and prices are steady to improving."
The national real estate market ended last year with a new median house price record of $389,000, up 9.6 per cent on December 2011.
A total of 74,000 houses sold during 2012, a 21 per cent increase on the previous year and the highest annual total since 2007.
The total number of auctions reached 11,950 last year, or 16.1 per cent of all sales, compared to 7101 auctions or 11.6 per cent of all sales during 2011.
Ms O'Sullivan said she expected to see "more of the same" this year, with the median sale price continuing to tick up steadily in most regions.
"I do expect to see volumes continue to increase."