All of last year's most expensive home sales were in Auckland, and all near the sea - with a beachfront property in Milford leading the real estate elite at $9.1 million, a tidy $1.6 million above its capital valuation.
The most expensive home sold last year was a $9.1 million beachfront property on the North Shore which went for $1.6 million over its valuation.
The four-bedroom house at 39 Saltburn Rd in Milford tops a list of New Zealand's 10 biggest property sales for 2012 - all of which were in Auckland.
Quotable Value records show it was purchased by Hugh Jones, a director of several Auckland companies including helicopter and plane charter business Inflite, formerly known as Helilink, which is based at Mechanics Bay.
The home was not on the market and it is understood Mr Jones approached the former owners through his real estate agent to make an offer after seeing the place. The deal was signed off in August.
The property boasts a 1844sq m section and a 442sq m home, which was built about four years ago after the previous house was removed.
It had a capital value of $7.5 million.
"It's a timeless Cape Cod design," said Andrew Dorreen, of Precision Real Estate in Takapuna.
"It's a half-acre site on the beach and they don't come up for sale very often, and because of its uniqueness and facing north, it attracted a good price."
The previous occupants bought the house in 2006 for $7.6 million when the CV was $6 million.
The 10 biggest sales totalled just over $59 million, according to figures provided to the Herald by PropertyIQ.
Four were beachfront homes, including the top two, while the others were within walking distance of the sea.
Three of the homes were in Herne Bay, the country's most expensive suburb with an average house price of $1,913,333. Another three were on the North Shore - in Milford, Belmont and Waiake - two were in Mission Bay and the remaining two were in in Orakei and Remuera. All but four sold for more than their valuation.
One of the properties, at 28 Ronaki Rd in Mission Bay, is a vacant section, spanning 2393sq m, which sold for $5.86 million and is for sale again.
The second highest sale was for a Belmont home at 22 Winscombe St, which sold for $7 million and is back on the market again.
Strand Plaza Takapuna Ltd, a company owned by North Shore property developers Andrew Holliday and Ian Willis, is on the certificate of title.
Other new owners of houses in the top 10 include property developers Edward and Culum Manson of the Manson family - who were worth $285 million on the National Business Review's rich list last year - and former Wellington cricketer-turned racehorse breeder Matthew Goodson and his partner Dianna Perron.
The Saltburn sale was $800,000 above 2011's biggest house sale - 19 Marine Parade in Herne Bay sold for $8.3 million. The next biggest sale was 53 Portland Rd in Remuera, which sold for $7 million.
PropertyIQ research director Jonno Ingerson said the market in Auckland shot ahead last year and demand had remained strong in the city.
He said the information covered only sales that had been settled and registered with local councils.
As top-end properties often had long settlement times, it was possible there were 2012 sales that could still make the top 10.
Mr Dorreen said his house sales in the past five months had totalled $45 million, which was a record for him.
"There has been quite a bit of movement in the upper end of the market in the last four to five months ... New Zealand's in quite a good state compared with a lot of other economies. A lot of people from offshore are wanting to invest in New Zealand and be based here."
Bayleys managing director Mike Bayley said the resurgence in $2 million-plus sales throughout 2012 reflected growing confidence in the Auckland housing market and improvement in the wider economy.
"Since the worst of the recession in 2008, 2009 and 2010, for many people, the mortgage component of their household debt has been reducing as a matter of priority. Concurrent with that, we have seen floating mortgage rates at historically low levels ...
"And since early last year, pricing levels for homes in the Auckland market have been rising month on month, improving owners' equity
The Herald revealed last week that 2846 homes had sold for $1 million or more last year compared with 2093 the year before - an increase of 36 per cent.
Whitford block sells for more than double value
This Whitford property went for $7.85 million.
Among some of the most impressive lifestyle block sales last year was a Whitford home that went for $7.85 million - $4.25 million over its valuation, which had been set by the council just seven months earlier.
Bayleys real estate agent Angela Rudling sold 42 Porterfield Rd in February. It had been valued at $3.6 million in July, according to Quotable Value records.
The home was not included in PropertyIQ's list of last year's biggest sales as it only referred to residential homes, not lifestyle blocks.
The house, which sits on a 2.5ha section, was sold 12 years ago for $705,000. It features a five-bedroom home with six-car garage, and a three-bedroom guest cottage with a garage for three cars.
Ms Rudling also sold 20 Strathfield Lane in Whitford for $6.05 million to an American buyer for $1.525 million above its valuation.
The Herald sought the two homes' sales prices from public records.
By Alanah Eriksen @AlanahEriksen Email Alanah