A burgeoning housing market - with sales up almost 40 per cent - has worked wonders for Whangarei mother Tracey Whittaker who sold her house and bought another in a bid to reduce her mortgage.

Ms Whittaker reckons with low interest rates and a surge in demand, this is a good time for those already in the property market to buy and sell.

Her comments followed figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand which revealed Northland house sales were up nearly 40 per cent last month - the biggest increase of any region - compared with December 2014.

The institute described Northland's property market as the most robust in the country. The median price across the region rose by $60,000 or 20 per cent to $360,000.


Reinz chief executive Colleen Milne said Northland was the most robust real-estate market in the country, with the surge in demand for coastal properties increasing activity.

She said property availability had declined significantly during 2015 and was now steady at historically low levels. Sales volumes remained strong.

Ms Whittaker did some work on her Carr St house where she lived in with her two children for two-and-a-half years before selling it and buying another property in Kamo.

"I needed to reduce my debt and I have thinking about it for a while. I bought the previous house at a good time and was able to sell it at a good time.

"I've also thought about renting but it would cost me $400 a week, and with interest rates down and a good housing market, I thought to buy."

She recalled a friend of hers in Tikipunga who sold her house within a week to an Auckland couple.

Barfoot and Thompson Whangarei branch manager Martin Dear said the market had "gone nuts".

"The buyers are just flooding in. We're getting buyers coming in the office every day wanting to buy investment property."

Some were paying premium prices, he said. "It's great ... It's our turn. We've done it so hard for so long and now it's become our opportunity to do well and for the region to do well."

The challenge now would be maintaining the number of property listings. "Some of the Aucklanders are coming and buying three and four properties," said Mr Dear.

One family was looking to buy its third rental, and a house for themselves. "That's what's driving our prices up."

Mr Dear said property listings were still coming in but there had been a shortage in the upper-market listings for houses worth $450,000 to $700,000. He expected more listings to come through next month when people returned from holidays.

The national median price of $465,000 was up $15,000, or 3.3 per cent on December 2014.