High-value Northland properties are selling, but first-home buyers have largely dropped out of the market, a Whangarei real estate agent says.
The latest QV New Zealand Herald Property Report shows the average house sale price in Whangarei rose 1.4 per cent in the three months to December to $335,273.
The cheapest area to buy a house across the region for the quarter ending November 30, 2013 was Kaikohe, with a median house price of $124,000, while the most expensive area was the popular Whangarei Heads beachfront at $450,500.
The country's most expensive suburbs were all in Auckland, with average prices ranging between $1.2million and $2million for a property on the city-centre fringe.
And though the nation's property prices have been steadily climbing, rising interest rates are expected to lump more costs on mortgage holders and could slow the heated housing market, experts say. The situation follows the recent introduction of Reserve Bank lending restrictions on borrowers with deposits of less than 20 per cent.
Whangarei Barfoot and Thompson branch manager Martin Dear said many of the company's recent sales had been high-value properties.
There had been lower-priced sales, he said, but just not as many.
"It's like the first-home buyers aren't around and aren't as strong."
The number of Whangarei February sales, 59, was quite low, he said.
"It must be relative to the cheaper houses not selling so much."
Buyers for higher-priced properties were coming from Auckland and Hamilton which was "really encouraging".
Generally the market had improved and auction sales were going well.
However, only investors were really buying cheaper properties, he said.
Meanwhile, new monthly figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand show the median house price for Northland jumped 11.1 per cent during February to $344,500 - up 2.8 per cent from the corresponding month last year.
The number of sales jumped 24.1 per cent to 175 last month - an 11.5 per cent year-on-year lift.
The national median price rose $33,000 to $415,000 compared to last February and was up $13,000 or 3.2 per cent on January this year.
REINZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said the Northland market continued to perform well, with rising numbers of sales year-on-year compared to the rest of the country.
"Vendors are increasing their price expectations, but that is not having a negative impact on the market as yet."