A $10.8 million clifftop mansion in St Heliers which went for $3.1 million above valuation was the country's most expensive house sale this year.
The home tops a list of New Zealand's 10 biggest house sales for 2013 - all of which were in Auckland and went for more than $5 million each.
Their sale value totalled just over $64.4 million, compared with $59 million last year.
The St Heliers home, on The Rise, was 1080 times more expensive than the cheapest sold last year - a four-bedroom shack at 1 Hope St, Mataura, Southland, which sold for $10,000.
Valued at $7.7 million, the St Heliers property was sold on March 29 to a couple who owned a manufacturing business in China but were moving to New Zealand.
"They decided they wanted their children and the next generation, their grandchildren, to grow up in a clean environment," said Barfoot & Thompson agent Paul Barnao.
The vendors, a New Zealand couple who wanted to downsize after their children grew up, had demolished the original 1930s home on the site in 2003 and built the six-bedroom, 707sq m concrete house.
They had originally wanted to renovate but the steel had developed faults so they had to restart.
"They built a home very much in keeping with the previous home, but of course with all the very latest modern conveniences and substantially bigger," Mr Barnao said.
It sits on a 1687sq m section with sweeping views.
"The most special feature is probably the location - virtually 360- degree views back to Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto and then you come around and take in the whole city and the Sky Tower and right out to the Waitakeres, so it's a pretty spectacular panoramic view," Mr Barnao said.
Designed by Auckland architects Sumich Chaplin, the house has five bathrooms, three living rooms, six-car garaging and a swimming pool.
It had been on the market for about two years and potential buyers had to qualify financially before attending open homes, Mr Barnao said.
"We did get one or two tyre-kickers from out of town who we didn't know a lot about, but we soon established that we could check people out reasonably carefully with the internet these days."
The real estate agent said it wasn't his biggest house sale ever, and he had also sold two homes worth more than $8 million each this year.
"It's a very beautiful home. It [the price] didn't surprise me. In fact, the surprise was that it didn't sell for a little bit more. It had been on the market a while, and pretty well tested in the market."
Former All Black coach Sir Graham Henry sold his home on the neighbouring Cliff Rd for $4.33 million this year, and a $5.5 million property on the street was one of a handful of properties owned by failed Crafar farms bidders May Wang and her business partner Jack Chen that were frozen by the Crown this year.
All but three of the top homes on the list - supplied to the Herald by PropertyIQ - were either beachfront or across the road from the sea, and all but one had swimming pools.
Five were on the North Shore, three of them in Takapuna.
All sold for more than their capital value (CV).
The second most expensive home sold this year was on Rarere Rd in Takapuna, which went for $8.5 million - $1 million over its valuation. The beachfront stucco house, built in 1989, has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and an infinity pool and sits on a 1975sq m section.
The new owners are listed on public records as E K Trust, of which former Miss World competitor Katherine Allsopp-Smith and partner Evan Russell are directors.
The third most expensive home was a $5.94 million beachfront property on William St, Takapuna.
The seven-bedroom house, built in 1995, sold in January to the chief executive of electricity retailer Pulse Utilities, Gary Holden - a Canadian national - and his wife, Patricia, according to public records.
The Herald revealed in January this year that the couple sold their home on the nearby Minnehaha Ave at the end of 2012 for $8.1 million, making it one of the most expensive sales for that year.
However, it did not feature on last year's list as it had not been settled and registered with local councils by December, when the information was given to the Herald.
Among other new owners listed on titles for the top 10 are former Bond and Bond owner Eric Faesenkloet, who now owns the Golf Warehouse and was this year made a member of the NZ Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday honours for his services to business, golf and the community.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) lawyer, a manager for a telecommunications company and the director of a property investment company are also new owners.
Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker and his wife Mandy are the former owners of one of the homes sold in Herne Bay for $5.8 million.
The PropertyIQ information refers only to residential homes, not lifestyle blocks, and some large sales will also not be included on this year's list as they had not settled.
That includes the $39 million sale of a seven-bedroom clifftop mansion on Paritai Drive to China-born businessman Deyi Shi.
Mr Shi, a major National Party donor, founded the Oravida Group, which specialises in exporting New Zealand food to China.
Properties at the top-end of the market often have long settlement times, so it's possible there were 2013 sales that could still make the top 10.
Several properties, more expensive than the top 10, are currently on the market.
They include the $35 million Pakatoa Island, which has been on and off the market for several years.
The 24ha land mass sits 3km off the southeast tip of Waiheke Island and is owned by New Zealand businessman John Ramsey, of Crusader Meats, who bought it in 1994 for $4.25 million.
The $33 million Cowes Bay Estate on Waiheke has been on the market since July 2007.
Property developer James Kirkpatrick's home at on Paritai Drive, which is on the market with an adjoining section at 32 Tuhaere St, has an asking price of $4.3 million over valuation at $13 million.
The most expensive property on last year's list was a $9.1 million beachfront property on Saltburn Rd in Milford, which went for $1.6 million over its valuation.
The four-bedroom house was purchased by Hugh Jones, a director of several Auckland companies including helicopter and plane charter business Inflite, formerly known as Helilink.
Gerard Logan, PropertyIQ's valuation panel manager, said he was not surprised at the volume of sales over $5 million because of the country's strong economy. He was surprised the total value of the top 10 sales had not surpassed $64 million.
Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said the large sales prices were reflective of Auckland's skyrocketing prices - Devonport and the suburbs defined as City/Pt Chevalier and Mt Eden/Epsom all had a median house price of more than $1 million.
"The houses have a lot in common - great positions, lovely views, big, and land in those central city suburbs is becoming a bigger part of the purchase," said Ms O'Sullivan.
"Am I surprised? Not in the slightest when you're getting a number of suburbs over the million-dollar median mark. At the end of the day, $1 million is the mid-point, and there are some pretty lovely homes in this city."
She said St Heliers did not usually feature among the most expensive properties sold.
"I'm surprised it doesn't come up more often. There are some amazing properties down that way. But I don't think they sell that often. It's such an established part of town, it's what we call tightly held."
The homes were a range of construction types - stucco, concrete and weatherboard.
"We don't really do same-same, which adds to some of the issues we have of the cost of building," Ms O'Sullivan said.
"You go to England and you cast your eye over a London suburb and it's street after street of the same design, the same construction. You cast your eye over an Auckland suburb and you're hard-pressed to find two of the same."
The 10 cheapest houses this year added up to just $244,000. They were all in rural towns and spread throughout the country, with two in Mataura, Southland.
Ms O'Sullivan said she had seen some properties seized by the local council for unpaid rates, and they were sold on or below market value with the large rates debt attached. The same went for unpaid body corporate fees on apartments.
"In some cases you might be paying $10,000, but you get a $20,000 or $30,000 rates bill."
... and the cheapest 10
1. $10,000 - Hope St, Mataura, Southland
• CV: $14,000
2. $12,500 - Tamarangi Drive, Kawerau, Bay of Plenty
• CV: $17k
3. $23k - Main Rd Clinton, South Otago
• CV: $34k
4. $23,500 - King St Motu, Te Karaka
• CV: $26k
5. $25k - Stafford St Patea, South Taranaki
• CV: $25k
6. $30k - Taranui St Ohura, King Country
• CV: $27k
7. $30k - Albion St Mataura, Southland
• CV: $40k
8. $30k - Tawa St Murupara, Bay of Plenty
• CV: $47k
9. $30k - Bann St, Bluff
• CV: $58k
10. $30k - Ngatai St, Taumarunui
• CV: $49k