Evidence of the "housing chain" is a sign Hawke's Bay's property market is back on track, an industry spokesman says.
QV's quarterly Property Report shows the median sale price in the Hastings district dropped 4.4 per cent to $291,500 in the three months to September 30.
The median sale price in Napier City dropped 7.1 per cent in the same time period, reaching $305,000.
Yet property Brokers Hawke's Bay regional manager Paul Whitaker said the fact a lot more properties were selling at the lower end of the market was "distorting the median".
"There's a lot more house sales, so there's more confidence in people," Mr Whitaker said.
"By putting their house on the market, they can actually sell, whereas that confidence probably wasn't there six months to a year ago."
Previously people were selling only if they had to or were in financial trouble, he said.
"To me it's showing signs of the housing chain which we've had in good times, which means there's more action happening at the bottom end, which is to do with the first-home buyers and the investors."
He said the movement enabled existing property owners to move up the chain.
While sale prices had fluctuated month to month for the year to October, more people were buying.
"There is definitely improved sales activity in the main centres of Hawke's Bay, and more buyer confidence in the Hawke's Bay market in spring 2012," Andrew White of My Valuer said.
The volume of residential property sold in Hawke's Bay continued to recover from last year's all-time low, but prices were still lagging according to figures from QV, he said.
"The residential market in Hawke's Bay dipped through 2008-2009 and has been gradually recovering in terms of sales volume since early 2011, when number of sales was at an all-time low. Prices have shown some recovery, but not to the extent of levels achieved in the mid-2000s.
For the year to October, Napier prices fluctuated between $270,000 and $320,000, with a median price of $310,000.
Hastings had a wider fluctuation, from $220,500 to $297,500, with a median of $220,500.
"In October 2012, Hastings saw a significant number of lower-end sales occurring, resulting in a lower median sell price occurring. In the previous months, excluding the October anomaly, the lowest median price had been $250,000."
He said it appeared do-ups were no longer favoured by first-home buyers.
"It is evident that properties with no deferred maintenance are more attractive to the first-home buyer - possibly due to lending criteria - while properties with deferred maintenance are being picked up by buyers in better equity positions, or by speculators coming back into the market place," Mr White added.
Nationally, sellers notched up a record-high average national asking price of $446,227 in the last month, according to property database Realestate.co.nz.
Ray White NZ chief executive Carey Smith said the property market was still split into two - Auckland, and the rest of the country.
While Auckland prices had continued to surge, prices had slipped in many provincial areas during the September quarter.
However, Mr Smith said the picture was still rosy when Auckland was excluded.
"The numbers are still pretty strong ... looking at the Central North Island, compared to 2008, it's almost double."
Realestate.co.nz spokesman Paul McKenzie said that following a strong month of sales in October, which saw 6640 New Zealand properties change hands, new listings were still not keeping pace with buyer demand.
It was still a sellers' market, Mr McKenzie said.