The number of houses sold in Mount Maunganui and Papamoa was up 17 per cent while an 11 per cent increase was seen in Tauranga.

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand yesterday released its January figures, which showed 173 dwellings were sold in the first month of the year across the three areas compared with 152 for the previous year.

Sales activity across New Zealand as a whole, last month slowed right down compared to December 2014, dropping by almost one third. It was however, a 2.6 per cent increase on January 2014.

Ross Stanway, chief executive of Realty Services, which operates Bayleys and Eves, said the rise in percentage had been consistent in other reports.

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There especially had been in increase volume of sales in the last six months, he said.

"That volume of sales would come from that middle price range, of $350,000 to the high $500,000. Having said that, we are certainly seeing more activity in the more top end market too in areas of Tauranga and the Mount. The interesting thing would be the average price increase would be in single figures of about 5 per cent, which was a good sign, the volume of sales was increasing but without prices running away."

Mr Stanway said the volume increase of sales was a simple reflection of the level of demand.

"That level of demand is from the people who live within the district who are upsizing or downsizing or from people outside the region who are moving here."

Mr Stanway said there was an upward trend in the volume of sales which would continue for some time yet.

Tauranga Harcourts general manager Nigel Martin said the increased number of sales came down to an increase of buyers on the market.

"We have been seeing it for the past 12 months so it is not unexpected. And based on the number of sales we had in December, it was a very good month, it was going to flow into January anyway. We were expecting the increase.

Mr Martin said there would be a number of factors which would continue to drive sales over the next 12 months.

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"Out of town buyers, especially from Auckland, we have a lower interest rate for borrowing money which looks like it is going to stay low the next 18 to 24 months."

Mr Martin said there had been more activity with first home buyers too.