Whangarei's housing market is flatlining - despite an increase in sales activity, a local QV spokesman says.
The latest QV New Zealand Herald Property Report, released this week, shows the average house sale price in the Whangarei district remained unchanged between July and September at $330,727, while Auckland region prices jumped 4.8 per cent to $676,053.
The cheapest area to buy a house across Northland was Dargaville, with a median house price of $156,000, while the most expensive area was Whangarei Heads at $457,000.
Meanwhile, PropertyIQ figures show first-home buyers have accounted for 17 per cent of all residential sales in Whangarei, 13 per cent in Kaipara and 12 per cent in the Far North since the beginning of 2012.
West Auckland had the highest proportion of first home buyer sales at 29 per cent, compared with just 6 per cent in the Coromandel.
QV Whangarei spokesman Jeffrey Robinson said the Whangarei market had been "fairly flat".
"There's been more sales activity but the values haven't increased."
Even though sales had been coming off a "pretty low base", market values should have increased.
It was too early to say whether the home loan restrictions were having an effect, but it was clear that first home buyers were mostly shut out of the local market, he said.
In Dargaville, $156,000 would buy a "reasonable three-bedroom house" on a full-sized section - most likely built in the 1960s or 1970s.
A budget of $457,000 at Whangarei Heads could get you a three-bedroom house with a view of the water, Mr Robinson said.
Nationally, the QV figures show Herne Bay in Auckland retained its top spot as the country's most expensive suburb, rising 3.5 per cent to a median house price of $1.77 million.
Waitakere City's average house price experienced the biggest regional jump of 6.5 per cent, while Napier prices saw the biggest fall, declining 0.5 per cent.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said buyer behaviour had changed markedly since the Reserve Bank's home loan restrictions came into force on October 1.
"Some buyers have been horribly depressed ... they're all having to go back to the drawing board a bit. And some of them are changing their buying parameters."
There were "real concerns" coming from regional New Zealand.
"In the regions there's a significant report that first home buyers have dropped out of the market entirely while they're working on their deposits."
Regional home owners looking to upgrade were also struggling to turn their equity into a 20 per cent deposit, she said.