Napier and Hastings recorded the country's biggest annual increase in house values for the main centres in August, with Waipukurau recording 24.5 per cent according to QV figures.

Napier values rose 18.8 per cent compared with August 2016, rising 5.3 per cent over the past three months to an average of $459,393.

Hastings values rose 18.4 per cent in the year and 2.9 per cent over the past three months, to an average of $425,780.

Read more: Emergency housing grants double for Napier and Hastings

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Central Hawke's Bay values are playing catch up, jumping 7.8 per cent over the past three months and 24.5 per cent in the year since August 2016 as buyers seek more affordable property. The average value is $287,158.

"Central Hawke's Bay remains a popular and affordable option for those that have missed out on property in the main centres as it's within commuting distance and this makes it a viable option," QV Hawke's Bay valuer Michelle Drinkrow said.

She said first-home buyers and investors remained active in the residential market but buyers were taking more time before buying, completing due diligence but "some are also accepting faults or issues that may have previously put them off a property as they have been searching for so long".

She said there was a lack of listings but many potential sellers were taking a "wait-and-see approach" because of the colder months and upcoming election.

"Reports are that there are still plenty of out-of-town buyers active with many buying higher-valued properties and getting more bang for their buck compared to the larger centres.

"House and land packages and spec homes are still popular with high demand for vacant land in general. Vacant lifestyle land on the fringe of the main centres is also in high demand with good sales levels being achieved."

Most areas of the North Island saw values rose over the past three months except for parts of the Wellington and Auckland regions. Values are now rising in many areas that have not seen strong growth for many years including East Coast areas including Gisborne and Wairoa as well as central North Island areas such as the Ruapehu District and Whanganui.

Nationally residential values increased 4.8 per cent over the year, which is the slowest annual rate since August 2012.

Residential property values across the Auckland region increased 2.8 per cent year-on-year which is the slowest annual rate of growth since October 2011. Values dropped by 0.2 per cent over the past three months.