House sales hit an 11-year high in Tauranga last month - with one agency saying 35 properties sold in a single day at auction.

However, first-home buyers struggling to get a foothold on Tauranga's hot property market are now eyeing homes in Rotorua, a real estate boss says.

Latest REINZ figures show 386 houses sold in Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa last month. More than 12 houses a day and a 23.7 per cent year-on-year increase.

It was the highest number of sales for the month of March in 11 years for the Bay of Plenty and Waikato.


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Eves and Bayleys Real Estate sales and marketing manager Karen Worley said the market was still booming, with 35 properties being sold by auction on one day.

"Not only are we seeing a lot of Auckland buyers here, we are also seeing Auckland investors. We have mortgage brokers from Auckland ringing and referring people to our sales team here."

Mrs Worley said more Tauranga buyers were heading to Rotorua to get into the housing market, particularly first-home buyers.

"They are doing exactly what Aucklanders are doing and going out of the area to get on the property ladder."

The same pattern would be happening in Te Puke and Katikati, she said.

Sales in Rotorua had risen 65 per cent year on year since 2015.

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First National, Mount, Tauranga and Omokoroa owner Anton Jones said it was still a sellers' market with a shortage of listings.

"It certainly is busy and extremely buoyant out there. Still a lot of Auckland investors looking, and people coming down from Auckland.

"But there are still lots of Bay investors looking and first-home buyers looking too, so we are continuing down the trend of the sellers' market."

Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said the volume of sales was in line with where house sales should be sitting each month for a marketplace of Tauranga's size.

"We are coming off a very, very low base, for the likes of 2008, 2009 and 2010. We are still not at the same levels in Tauranga that they were back in 2003."

Greg Purcell, franchise owner of Ray White Realty Focus in Mount and Papamoa, said Aucklanders were still heading to the Bay of Plenty for its consistent, warm climate, locality and lifestyle.

Mr Purcell was not sure if the market would continue its current trend.

"Often it's an unseen thing which will stop things happening.

"The Global Financial Crisis, nobody knew the credit crunch was coming and look at the domino effect it had around the world.

"We don't know what we could be blind-sided by."