The "spring splurge" has given Hawke's Bay's property market a significant boost, local agents say.
"It's very busy, there's lots of buyers through open homes, and a lot of contracts being signed," Simon Tremain of Tremain Real Estate said.
Colliers International director Cam Ward said buyer activity was up noticeably from previous years.
"Certainly we are noticing a spring in the market in terms of activity considering the last three years have been a bit quiet," he said.
"We launched Sotheby's last week and have already had some good activity in that higher price bracket."
The QV Quarterly Property Report, released yesterday, shows the Auckland property market is again leading the way nationwide.
However, sale prices in the provinces, with the exception of Canterbury and Hamilton, have been stagnant or declining, with some prices down by more than 20 per cent compared with 2007.
The Hawke's Bay property market had been good through winter, with a 20 per cent increase on last year's sale volumes, Mr Tremain said.
"Winter's been pretty steady, but spring, I think is gonna be huge," he said.
During the market's low, 100 to 150 houses were sold a month in Hawke's Bay, but that figure had now increased to 200 to 250.
"The spring splurge is bringing lots more properties on," Mr Tremain said.
Mr Ward said: "There is definitely a spring in activity."
Nationally, 65 of the 118 towns and suburbs north of Turangi declined in the last quarter, with Hamilton providing the only encouragement.
The soft regional market reflects weak demand from buyers and inflated prices in some areas.
Auckland has been described as a sellers' market with sale volumes during winter (traditionally a flat time for sales and prices) returning to peak 2007 levels.
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said the housing market was seeing gradual improvement.
"A lot of the improvement has been in terms of sales turnover increasing and prices increasing out of Canterbury and Auckland," Mr Tuffley said.
"There's a degree of stabilisation in the wider market but what we've seen in those two regions is a lot more heat coming through."
That "heat" was driven by supply shortages and surging demand, Mr Tuffley said.
"Starting with Auckland ... building activity has been relatively moderate but the population has continued to gradually grow.
"Auckland tends to be the dominant destination for a lot of immigrants and there's often a degree of urban drift as well."
The population in Auckland had been growing, but house construction had not kept pace with demand.
"We've got too many people chasing too few homes," the economist said.
Mortgage rates were at record lows and Mr Tuffley said they were likely to remain low if the situation in Europe did not spark any spectacular crises with global implications.
There was limited scope for interest rates to fall any further, however a rise was not expected until mid-next year.