Tauranga house prices lifted ahead of the Reserve Bank's lending restrictions, but sluggish sales are holding the market back, a local real estate agent says.
The latest QV New Zealand Herald Property Report, released yesterday, shows the average house sale price in Tauranga rose 1.2 per cent between July and September to $435,776, while Auckland region prices jumped 4.8 per cent to $676,053.
The cheapest area to buy a house across the region was Hairini, with a median house price of $240,750, while the most expensive area was Omokoroa at $506,000.
LJ Hooker Bay of Plenty franchise owner Neville Falconer said although prices had risen, the number of sales was slow.
He did not accept suggestions it was too early to tell whether the October 1 home loan restrictions had had any effect.
"There is ample evidence in the absence of buyer inquiry from first-home buyers."
The flow-on effect of first-home buyers being locked out had slowed the whole market down, Mr Falconer said.
In Hairini, $240,750 would get you a two-bedroom house, most likely fibreboard and with an iron roof, he said.
Omokoroa was a sought-after, "marine-oriented" area and $500,000 would likely get you a harbour view.
Maungatapu saw the biggest increase with the median house price going from $280,100 in 2010 to $374,750 this year.
Tauranga South saw a 22.9 per cent drop, from $361,375 in 2010 to $278,800 this year.
Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said it was difficult to draw conclusions from median sales price data as that did not necessarily reflect a change in the value of houses but rather what value homes were being purchased at the time.
The 33.8 per cent increase in median sales price in Maungatapu across the past three years could be due to the range of properties available in the area, he said.
Realty Services chief executive Ross Stanway said changes in median house prices reflected the demand for properties at any one time.
"In some instances three years ago those properties were considered to be overpriced and people bought elsewhere. In the last three years they clearly have represented better value for money.
"Demand has gone up so the house prices have gone up," he said.
Mount Maunganui and Papamoa Ray White franchise owner Greg Purcell said despite QV figures showing only a 0.1 per cent increase in median sale price for Mount Maunganui, gains had been made in the past three years.
"There's no doubt that the Mount market is more buoyant than it was three years ago."
Sales volumes were up slightly but a lack of homes for sale was holding the market back.
Meanwhile, PropertyIQ figures released yesterday show first-home buyers accounted for 15 per cent of all residential sales in Tauranga and 13 per cent in the wider Western Bay of Plenty district since the start of 2012.