The number of houses going to auction has rocketed in the same way it did at the 2008 peak, as home owners cash in during a desperate scramble by buyers.
The switch to a sellers' market has been sudden and dramatic with home owners in desirable areas trying for top dollar with competitive buyers.
The heat in the market has pushed record prices even higher in Auckland and Christchurch where a short supply has put some houses under the hammer for around $300,000 over their most recent CVs.
Auctions had increased by 37 per cent on last year at Harcourts and other agencies also reported growth.
Harcourts chief executive Hayden Duncan said main centres outside Auckland and Christchurch were less affected.
"There are some owners in Auckland and Christchurch who have been holding off for a good time to sell and that time is now," Duncan said.
"But other areas are still where Auckland was a year or two ago."
Duncan said auctions were preferred during periods of uncertainty - both in downturn and growth in the market.
"We saw it in 2008 during the financial crisis and we are seeing it now where sellers want to see the true value in their property with the shortage of houses."
Bayleys national auction manager Campbell Dunoon said auction numbers through the company were up 13 per cent on the same time last year. Auctions were most prevalent in the Auckland residential market, although the sale process was also increasing in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Hawke's Bay regions.
Real estate agent Anne Duncan said 90 per cent of listings at her Mt Albert office were for auction - and she was selling 93 per cent of those.
Of 15 listings up for auction this week, nine went under the hammer, two sold prior and three were passed in but were under negotiation. Only one property, an apartment with a body corporate arrangement, received no bids.
"We have done twice as many auctions this year as last year," Duncan said.
"Sellers want the best price and buyers want to know what it is worth and the best way to do that is through auction."
Rawinia Matthews from UP Realty in Mt Eden said the deluge of houses onto the market meant that even though premiums were being paid, buyers were being selective.
"We note in many cases, buyers who were currently spoilt for choice, bidding up to a point then moving on to the next one."
Meanwhile, the boom in sales has put real estate agents, lawyers, and removal companies under pressure to get contracts settled and new owners into their homes by Christmas.
Andrew Seton of Auckland Property Lawyers said, "People want bank documents quickly and, because it is a heated market, the banks get clogged up."
"Most people leading up to Christmas are encouraged to settle soon because most firms close down between Christmas and New Year."
Families moving into a new area also wanted to settle before the start of the first school term.
Tony Kenrick of AA Carriers said the company would have the busiest December in three years.
"We are doing about 30-40 moves a day," Kenrick said.
Wait pays off at auction
Getting settled into a new home for Christmas - and before their new baby arrived - was a dream the Holden family thought would never happen.
They had been hunting for a bigger family home for nine months, had missed out on one property and couldn't find anything suitable in a popular suburb starved of listings - until Wednesday night.
Among a flood of new listings, 13 houses went under the hammer - and the Holden's old home was one of them.
Phil Holden, the chief executive of the Lion Foundation, pictured left with daughter Lila, said he and wife Jenny Williams held off selling until they found their dream home - which took nearly a year.
"We were finally able to buy a house, and as soon as we did that we put our house up for auction," Holden said.
Their four-bedroom weatherboard home in Mark Rd, Mt Albert sold for $925,000 - $315,000 over the CV.
"We are delighted where we ended up but we didn't know what we were going to get," Holden said.
"We had done a lot of research but we had been looking in a different price bracket, so we didn't know what to expect."
The family move into their new bigger pad, just around the corner, after settlement on December 7.