Aucklanders are buying more than 20 per cent of properties sold in Whangarei, as soaring city house prices force them to look elsewhere.
Data supplied to NZME by CoreLogic shows that in the first three months of this year Auckland investors and movers bought 23.9 per cent of all properties sold in Whangarei, 19.5 per cent of Tauranga sales and 17.2 per cent of homes in Hamilton.
Auckland interest in Hamilton spiked last year to make up almost a quarter of all sales in the three months to June.
Overall the average level of sales to Aucklanders in Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga has more than doubled in five years to 20 per cent.
The true level is likely to be higher as the figures do not record how many first home buyers move cities since they only show up in the system when they make their purchase.
Anecdotal evidence suggests many would-be first home buyers who feel shut out of the Auckland market are buying cheaper properties in the regions, for themselves or as rentals. A BNZ survey this week found 19 per cent of Aucklanders who did not own homes were considering buying a more affordable property investment elsewhere.
Auckland-based Loan Market mortgage broker Bruce Patten said 90 per cent of his clients who bought property outside the city were now purchasing in Tauranga, which riled many local residents.
"They don't like it. The ones who own. It's increasing the value of their house. But the one's who don't own feel quite aggrieved that there's so many Aucklanders buying in their neck of the woods and pushing prices up."
The average Tauranga home is now worth $571,872, up 22.6 per cent ($105,494) in the year to March.
Hamilton has also seen huge interest from Auckland buyers.
Its average value is now $460,725, up 23.3 per cent ($89,064) in the past 12 months.
There are also reports of surging activity in Wellington and even Dunedin as the "halo effect" of Auckland's housing market fans out across the country, with reports of buyers forgoing due diligence checks in order to secure a home.
Mr Patten agreed rampant house price inflation had driven many buyers out of Auckland to the likes of Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga and Hawke's Bay.
"It's the only way to get on the ladder. There is certainly a lifestyle aspect to it, but the main reason is to own their own home.
"In Auckland, for $700,000 you're probably getting a unit now. In Tauranga you're getting a four-bedroom, two-bathroom [house] on a 500-square-metre-plus section."
CoreLogic senior research analyst Nick Goodall said Auckland investor interest in Whangarei had "kicked up" in the past year or so, while the trend in Tauranga started to lift from late 2014. The level of Auckland buyers in the Hawke's Bay has also risen, from 4.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent.