Tauranga's house sale prices have risen, but the number of homes being sold has dropped.

That's the main finding from REINZ data for the 2016 calendar year released to the Bay of Plenty Times.

The data also reveals the top-five most expensive homes sold in Tauranga last year. All five were in Mount Maunganui, with settlement prices ranging from $3.7 million to $6.2 million.

According to REINZ, the median price of homes sold in Tauranga last year was just over $583,000, a rise of 42 per cent in two years.

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However, this does not mean that individual home values have risen by 42 per cent, as an unusually high proportion of expensive home sales has skewed the averages.

Possible reasons for the dip in sales last year were an unusually strong 2015, the effects of loan-to-value lending rules imposed on banks, lower numbers of listings, and buyers no longer being willing to pay inflated prices.

The chief executive of Eves and Bayleys Real Estate, Ross Stanway, said the spike in 2015 sales could have been caused by people trying to beat the loan-to-value restrictions due to be imposed in 2016.

Ross Stanway
Ross Stanway

He suggested that a lack of stock was an issue towards the end of last year, and prices were reaching a point that people were no longer willing to pay.

"There was a drop in volumes that could be due to buyer resistance," he said. " It got to a point last year where enough was enough, and it can take vendors a while to adjust to that."

Greg Purcell of Ray White Group in Papamoa mentioned the loan restrictions and agreed that fewer people had listed their homes in late 2016.

"The listing shortage was critical for a few months," he said. "I'd never seen such a lack of available homes."

Mr Purcell said that, if the number of listings remained low and demand remained healthy, then there could be upwards pressure on prices in the coming months.

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The middle to expensive part of the market was still busy, he said. At the lower end, investors had returned but "not in great numbers".

Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said he had about 700 listings at the start of last year and 400 at the beginning of this one, which illustrated the dip in volumes.

He felt that the market was "pretty steady at the moment, without a massive imbalance in supply and demand".

Anton Jones
Anton Jones

Anton Jones of First National at Mount Maunganui, Tauranga and Omokoroa said the lack of listings last year was self-fulfilling. Owners were reluctant to sell because they couldn't find a new home to buy.

The market was moving more quickly now, and January had been a busy month.

Mr Jones felt that some homeowners had tried to sell for unrealistic prices because of publicity about sales in a couple of suburbs.

Number of Tauranga homes sold

2014: 2911
2015: 4135
2016: 3732

Source: REINZ

Median sale prices

2014: $410,000
2015: $460,000
2016: $583,250

Source: REINZ