Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

NZ's latest property hotspots

In Rotorua, the median house value has jumped 15 per cent annually but is still affordable at $318,000, according to data from QV. Photo / Ben Fraser
In Rotorua, the median house value has jumped 15 per cent annually but is still affordable at $318,000, according to data from QV. Photo / Ben Fraser

Rotorua, Whakatane and Taupo are three new areas to bask in the glow of Auckland's property boom as investors drive up values.

First-home buyers and investors priced out of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga have snapped up more affordable homes further south.

In Rotorua, the median house value has jumped 15 per cent annually but is still affordable at $318,000, according to data from QV.

QV national spokeswoman Andrea Rush said anything under $400,000 was attractive for buyers priced out of the "golden triangle" between Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton.

"Rotorua is going off right now and the market is hot with prices driven up by investors looking for better yields and first-home buyers priced out of other North Island towns," Rush said.

"It is the increasing trend where investors are becoming more active in Rotorua, Whakatane, Taupo and even Kawerau and that activity drives the market up."

Rush said Rotorua was the first to show increased activity. Now Taupo and Whakatane have recorded significant increases of 12 and 13 per cent respectively.

Kawerau has seen a median price increase of 23.5 per cent in the past year - up to $128,060.

QV data recently revealed the median value in the Auckland region had hit $955,793, which amounted to a 15.4 per cent rise over the past year.

Ross Stanway, chief executive of Eves Real Estate said Rotorua's growth of 15 per cent year on year was significant because values were usually very stable.

"It is reflective of the wider growth in Waikato and Bay of Plenty and investors seeking good value of return." A lot of the activity was in the first-home market and those looking to retire.

A budget of $400,000 would buy "a decent family home" in Rotorua, Stanway said.

Whakatane's 13 per cent rise saw median values reach $330,491 in May.

Edge Realty agent Richard Baker said out-of-town investors had pushed up values.

"We have definitely seen the push. Even local investors are snapping up the rentals because people see it as a good growth area," he said.

A shortage of housing stock and "huge demand" from Auckland had seen prices in Taupo reach their 2007 peak.

The median value had reached $386,366 and was climbing.

Harcourts agent Mary-Louise Johns described the market as "crazy" and said Aucklanders were buying houses sight unseen.

"It is unbelievable. We have never had it like this before," she said.

The biggest jump in value was in Kawerau. Ninety-one houses were sold to out-of-towners in the past eight months and most sales were to those priced out of Tauranga.

Real estate agent Wendy Peri said the buzz in the town was exciting. Of the 20 houses she had sold in the past three months only one was sold to an Aucklander.

"Most are coming from Tauranga because they are sick of the traffic or have been priced out," she said.

"It has been great for the town because the houses are being done up and it is starting to look nice."

- Herald on Sunday

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