Demand for inner-city living is climbing as apartments in the CBD continue to sell off the plans.
Some city centre developments were already 50 per cent sold and the Farmers project had received "unprecedented inquiry" for its townhouses and apartments.
New data shows apartment sales have risen in the past three years and business leaders say apartment living will only get more popular as businesses are drawn back into the CBD.
Fifty per cent of a five-storey luxury apartment development set for Tauranga's CBD have already been sold off the plans.
Twelve of the 24 luxury Luxridge Apartments planned for 1-3 Selwyn St have been sold as demand for inner-city living soars.
Gartshore Group managing director Rob Gartshore, who is part of the development team, said they have secured 12 sale and purchase agreements in a little more than 10 weeks.
"That's 50 per cent of the apartments. It's a phenomenal result, especially given these are some of the higher-priced apartments."
Gartshore said interest had been high since the "soft launch" of the development on December 10 last year.
"The interest was so heavy they wanted sale-and-purchase agreements immediately."
The demand meant the project was well ahead with its sales, he said.
"For us, it's given us a significant level of confidence that there's such a demand off the plan at this price point."
Kelly Cotter, who is part of the development team with wife Dina Cotter, said the buyers were a "real geographical mix" of people.
Cotter said there had been national and international inquiries from Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Blenheim, Auckland, Waikato and Hamilton.
Only one of the 12 sale and purchase agreements was to an Auckland investor, he said.
"It's mainly people downsizing or relocating to the Bay of Plenty."
The fifth floor was originally going to include three larger penthouse apartments but Cotter said plans had been amended to two-bedroom apartments due to market demand.
"The appetite for those has been very strong," he said.
"We are really seeing that attraction for luxury, maintenance-free living."
Cotter said the development was progressing through its design stages and they were working closely with TCC in an effort to prevent delays during the consenting process.
Once resource consent was approved, the development would happen in stages.
Home offices had been incorporated in some of the apartments, which Cotter said was influenced by the ability to work from home post-Covid-19 lockdown.
"We have also received a bit of inquiry from electric vehicle owners."
All of the car parks would be wired with the ability to charge e-bikes and e-vehicles, he said.
"We are future-proofing the building. It just made sense."
Cotter said he was "very excited" about the project.
"I think this will help to revitalise the CBD. We absolutely need these types of developments.
"The Luxridge development team is happy to be bringing a multi-unit apartment building to the Tauranga CBD."
Lead sales agent for the Vantage development at 359 Cameron Rd, Theo Smith of Harcourts, said about 50 per cent of the 32 luxury apartments were already sold.
Smith said sales had been going "very well".
"People can see the development is going ahead."
He said buyers were a "mixed-bag" but predominantly owner/occupiers.
"There is a big part of the Auckland market buying into it, some from Waikato and locals selling up their family homes."
Buying off the plans gave people time to get their property right without having to be under financial strain.
"They are buying in today's market on today's rates and settling in 18 months' time in a different environment."
Smith said people were starting to see the positives of inner-city living.
"I think a lot of people are starting to see good points about living in the CBD."
Thirty Eight Elizabeth and Elizabeth Towers project manager Brett Nicholls said they have had "unprecedented inquiry" about the sale of its apartments and townhouses.
The new Farmers development in Tauranga's CBD includes 97 luxury apartments and 23 townhouses.
Nicholls said the apartments and townhouses were taking shape, with the residential part of the project on track to open early 2022.
"We have had unprecedented inquiry about the sale of the apartments and townhouses.
"However, we prefer to build these homes first to demonstrate the high level of finishing and workmanship. When the time comes there will be show apartments and townhouses for viewing."
Nicholls said they chose the CBD site "because we have faith in the Tauranga city centre".
"We cannot underestimate what an influx of residents across the 97 luxury apartments and 23 townhouses at Elizabeth Towers will do to bring vibrancy and activity, as well as the encouragement of further investment and amenity development."
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data shows apartment sales jumped to 117 from 90 in the year to February 2021. However, the median sale price for apartments in Tauranga had dropped to $680,000 compared to $685,000 in 2020 and $695,000 in 2019.
Acting chief executive Wendy Alexander said Kiwis had become more accustomed to apartment-style living in the past 10 years or so.
Alexander said the market for apartment sales in Tauranga in the past few years had been "quite mixed".
"Median prices have eased back ever so slightly from the same time last year, however, that's likely to be a supply factor with more apartments sold in the last 12 months than we've seen in Tauranga City for a couple of years now.
"However, looking at the overall trend line, prices of apartments do look to be trending upwards, and this is likely to be in part due to the increasing popularity of apartments, but also the fact that we're seeing more high-end apartments being built."
Managing director of the Realty Group Ltd, which operates Eves and Bayleys, Simon Anderson said previously there had been no availability for inner-city living.
"Therefore, there can't be any demand when nothing is available. We've seen, with the couple of developments that have happened already, the desire for that sort of living.
"When that trend improves, hopefully, we'll start to see that fill up the city centre."
Economic development agency Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said apartments would only get more popular in Tauranga.
"We're already seeing some momentum in this area.
"Quality developments like Luxridge are leading the way and we would also expect to see some mid-range developments kick off in the near future."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said businesses were being drawn back into the CBD.
"Office workers recognise that traffic congestion is going to get worse before it gets better. Many are choosing to live closer to the CBD, which is great for the city centre."