Lifestyle property prices have soared and sales in Tauranga have already exceeded the number sold in 2014 with the Western Bay expected to blitz its tally over the coming months.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand show 49 lifestyle properties sold in Tauranga to the end of July this year compared to 36 in 2014 and 31 in 2013. Records for the Western Bay of Plenty revealed 197 sales to the end of July compared to 267 in 2014 and 237 in 2013.

Chief executive Colleen Milne said the median sale price in the Western Bay of Plenty had lifted from $480,000 in 2014 to $620,000 in 2015 and days to sell dropped from 179 days in 2014 to 120 days in 2015. There had also been an increase in sales each month in Tauranga with 88 per cent more during May and June alone, she said.

Ross Stanway, chief executive of Eves and Bayleys Real Estate, said with demand growing for residential property in Tauranga and its fringe suburbs, buyers were looking further afield for attractive lifestyle options or affordable housing.

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"We are seeing families opting to raise their children on lifestyle blocks or in rural support towns for the same price they would pay to live on a small section closer to work in Tauranga."

Harcourts Tauranga managing director Simon Martin said the lifestyle market tended to coat-tail on the back of residential.

Lifestyle properties were attracting interest from buyers in the extended Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Auckland, he said.

"That is where we are getting the bulk of our inquiry from, probably about 80 per cent."

First National, Mt, Tauranga and Omokoroa owner Anton Jones said lifestyle blocks were back in flavour and in the last six months the firm had "sold more and they are going quicker".

QV homevalue registered valuer David Hume said this was in line with the market on the whole.

"It has shown a return to confidence on the back of a general upswing in the property cycle, increased interest from the Auckland market, strong net migration and continued historically low interest rates."

Farmers may also look to subdivide.

"As values continue to improve farmers will look to use their properties to their highest and best use, with subdivision becoming more feasible as the market for lifestyle properties improves. Indications are that current demand is more for improved lifestyle properties with all services and amenities connected."

Telfer Young Valuers Property Advisors Tauranga director Shayne Donovan-Grammer said if a motorway link between the city and Omokoroa became a reality it would be a massive boost for the lifestyle property market as traffic congestion was a problem.

Buyers get more land for their money on a lifestyle property but trade-offs included travel and maintenance costs, he said.


Lifestyle Property Sales

* Tauranga District 2014 - 36 sales, median sale price $561,013

* Tauranga District 2013 - 31 sales, median sale price $575,000

* Western Bay of Plenty 2014 - 267 sales, median sale price $518,000

* Western Bay of Plenty 2013 - 213 sales, median sale price $550,000

Source: REINZ