The number of house sales across Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa has increased by 26 per cent compared to the same time last year but has slowed for the first time since May, with property experts attributing the drop to a shortage of stock.

Two-hundred and fifty-four houses sold last month, 89 fewer than the month before.

In Tauranga, 153 houses sold, down from 216 in July, but in Mount Maunganui and Papamoa 99 sold, up from 86 in July.

Despite the drop in numbers, sales were still up by 52 on the same time last year.

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Ross Stanway, chief executive of Eves and Bayleys Real Estate, said it was not uncommon to have a particularly high sales month followed by a month with less volume.

"In some case it can be due to the significant reduction of number of houses available for sale following that strong sales month. In these cases, it takes time to have the supply side gain momentum again.

"The drop in volume referred to is more likely a reflection of a lower number of properties available for sale, plus recognition by buyers that there is still excellent value for money available in our region."

The key reference point to notice trends was comparing the numbers to the same month last year, "and that statistic is a very compelling positive one in our region," Mr Stanway said.

Eves and Bayleys sales and listings so far this month suggested the strong growth over the past 12 months would continue. "The continuing growth in new subdivisions and land and build packages, combined with low mortgage interest rates, will keep buyer interest and sales volumes ticking over well in our region, combined with what will be increasing numbers of homes coming on to the market in the months ahead," he said.

Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said there was traditionally a drop in sales from July to August, noticeable for the past four years.

It could be a result of demand continuing but supply dropping, he said. However, they had noticed an increasing number of listings in the past couple of weeks.

"There's certainly still a lot of activity out here in the market."

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Of 11 auctions they held yesterday, nine properties sold. More than 100 people were in their auction room, he said.

First National owner for Mount Maunganui, Tauranga and Omokoroa Anton Jones had also noticed a lack of stock in the past month but was confident buyers would continue to come in their droves with more people putting their properties on the market for the spring rush.

Ross Stanway is the chief executive of Eves and Bayleys Real Estate.
Ross Stanway is the chief executive of Eves and Bayleys Real Estate.

Greg Purcell, franchise owner of Ray White Realty Focus in Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, said locals were not necessarily selling to buy but were in competition due to the influx of Aucklanders looking to buy in the Bay. "That's our biggest challenge to be honest, they're in competition with out-of-towners who are in numbers."

Real Estate Institute regional director Philip Searle said cities across the whole region were seeing very strong demand, "particularly Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo and Tauranga, with the influence of Auckland buyers being keenly felt".

Couple search for 2 months

Charlotte Jones and her partner have been actively looking for a house for about two months but Miss Jones said there was "just not enough houses for the amount of people looking".

They were hoping to find a standard three-bedroom home, ideally near Otumoetai, under $450,000 in order to qualify for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant.

"There's a lot of people looking in that same range. You're a first home buyer so you want to make the most of any Government subsidies."

They had recently spent weeks doing due diligence on a property before its auction and on the day been out-bid by an Aucklander who bought over the phone, without ever having seen the property.

The phone bidder had only registered for the auction hours before buying.

Miss Jones was not surprised to hear the number of sales dropped off last month.

"I notice that because when I go on Trade Me there's 300 less houses than there was when we first started looking. I'd say the drop in the number of sales is just because there's not enough houses."