South Auckland suburbs recorded the city's biggest property value gains last year as buyers priced out of more affluent suburbs scrambled to secure homes.
But an economist is picking Auckland house prices to fall in the next few months as measures aimed at curbing the effect of domestic and foreign investors bite.
Figures provided to the Herald by data analysis company CoreLogic show Weymouth was Auckland's hottest suburb last year. Median values there soared nearly 32 per cent to $554,500.
In contrast, the Tawharanui Peninsula in northern Auckland was the city's poorest performer - though a standard home's value still jumped 9.1 per cent to $940,050.
CoreLogic senior research analyst Nick Goodall said the greatest growth in the past 12 months had been at the bottom end of the market.
"This is not unusual for a market with strong growth across the board. In times of strong growth, the lower end tends to grow at a faster rate due to increased competition at that end of the market - mostly investors and first-home buyers, but also movers."
House values in the top 10 risers were all well below the Auckland median, which now sits at $933,264 - up 22.5 per cent since December 2014.
Loan Market mortgage adviser Bruce Patten said strong growth in South Auckland reflected the shift of investors back into the market in force. The area was seen as a better return on equity than central Auckland, eastern areas or the North Shore.
Some of the recorded price rises were "a bit scary", he said.
"We would hope they don't continue at that level in the next 12 months, to avoid a bubble being created."
Westpac economist Dominick Stephens predicted yesterday that Auckland house prices would fall in the first quarter of this year.
"Our view for some time has been that the Auckland market would slow sharply as a consequence of the recent change in the LVR restrictions, which were tighter for Auckland investors, and the tax changes because Auckland is more sensitive to investor activity than other markets," he told interest.co.nz. "We've seen a 30 per cent drop in sales in Auckland and that's a good portent of house price declines to come."
New QV figures show Auckland house values flattened in December while other areas saw significant gains, but the city's average home is still worth double Wellington's $476,634 and well above the national average of $558,146.
QV spokeswoman Andrea Rush said Auckland value rises during the first nine months of last year were at a rate not seen since the 1990s, sparking new measures to curb investor activity.
"Following the introduction of the new measures in October and November, growth in the Auckland market slowed, while values in other centres including Wellington and Dunedin saw significant value increases in the [final] three months of the year."