With a price tag of $5.7 million the couple who purchased a stunning Mount Maunganui property in June paid Tauranga's top residential sale price for 2016 - and they couldn't be happier with their purchase.
Deciding to settle permanently in the Bay the couple, who did not wish to be named, had been planning to renovate their existing Papamoa beach house.
Then a friend suggested they view the new home on Oceanbeach Rd and everything changed.
The three-storey home had everything they wanted and plenty of additional luxuries.
Among them were Italian lights, marble floors and stunning bathroom tiles, stretching right to the high-stud ceilings.
The outdoor entertainment area, pool and spa all overlook Mount Maunganui Golf Club, currently featuring a giant Pohutukawa tree in full bloom for Christmas.
In the main bedroom ensuite are crystal hand basins which each have a $13,000 price tag.
The ground floor tour includes a 2600-bottle wine cellar - including double wine fridge and a huge drive-through four-car garage.
On the main living floor is a media room, complete with six leather armchairs.
It's fair to say the couple are finding very little reason to venture beyond their front gate.
Tired of dealing with corrosion at beachfront properties, they are happy to enjoy close proximity to the beach, sea views and the protection of being one road back from the water.
The house took the previous owners about three years to build and they lived in it for less than a year before making their next move.
"I don't have to go through that pain of building and resource consent and decision-making in terms of the house," said the current owner.
"We were very fortunate to find a house that ticked nine of the 10 boxes."
Meanwhile, the biggest bargains on the market this year proved to be units at the former Bay City Motel on Waihi Rd in Judea.
Two of the units took out the top two spots on the list of cheapest properties, selling for $165,000 and $170,000 each.
The housing outlook
Huge jumps in property equity may be over and interest rates set to rise but local property experts say the buoyant economy and appeal of the Bay spell a positive outlook for 2017.
Chief executive of Realty Services, which owns Bayleys and Eves, Ross Stanway, said the property market and region were in a very healthy state heading into 2017.
While the rate of price increase would probably level off, the desirability of the region wouldn't alter, he said.
A long wet winter in 2016 had seen sales stock drop, pushed lower by the fact potential sellers were waiting for more selection to come on the market.
Lately fine weather had brought a significant number "on stream" he said.
"It's still a very busy market."
Demand for property in Tauranga would continue because the factors that influenced it hadn't changed, he said. However an increase in interest rates could effect people's appetite to buy a new home.
Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said all the economic indicators were looking positive for the new year, including dairy prices which bolstered the property market.
Consumer confidence was also high, which really helped the cause, he said.
"The only negative could be interest rates going up," he said.
The LVR restrictions also meant potential home buyers needed to go back to the drawing board to raise funds, taking them out of the market for a while.
While a lot of homes were still going to auction LVR restrictions also meant less unconditional buyers in the market, he said.
More stock was coming onto the market after strong demand in May, June and July when prices went up.
"We're back to a market that is not starved," he said.
Owner of First National owner Anton Jones said there could be another burst in Tauranga's property market next year, depending on whether the spring stock was soaked up early.
"With interest rates being low and people coming in here from Auckland we don't see it going down, that's for sure."
He expected a peak over summer as tourists fell in love with the Bay.
"That tends to be what happens, they bring their family for a holiday and think it's not a bad place to live," he said.
There was now a lot more stock on the market, across the full range, including those in the higher end which appealed to Auckland buyers, he said.
Craigs Investment Partners head of private wealth research Mark Lister said he was reasonably optimistic about the local economy heading into 2017.
New Zealand was in good shape and he expected Tauranga to remain in the upper quartile in terms of performance - led by its close proximity to Auckland, population growth and desirability as a place to live.
"My outlook's that the housing market here will continue to rise but it will be a much slower rise than what we've seen over the last couple of years.
"People would be very unwise to expect that to be repeated over the next one to two years," he said.
In a year's time he expected property prices to be higher but home owners to be making much more modest gains.
Interest rates were going up next year - without a doubt, as a rise in inflation around the world made its way here.
Mortgage rates were impacted more by what was going on overseas - rather than the Reserve Bank - and rates were going up fast, he said.
New home buyers needed to factor these increases in to their decision to take on further debt.
"That will put the brakes on the market a little bit too," he said.
However, the heat coming out of the Tauranga market was a good thing before it suffered further from the affordability issues plaguing Auckland, he said.
Tauranga was in a stronger position than Auckland when it came to land availability and as a result affordable options were still available, he said.
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