Home values across Tauranga have shot up across the board in recent years, but some places have grown faster than others. Bay of Plenty Times property reporter Zoe Hunter takes a look at the latest CoreLogic data and shines a spotlight on an unassuming city suburb where values jumped further than anywhere else in the past year and talks to local figures about what's changed. In spite of the growth in the area, the suburb's average price is still in the range that has real estate agents saying first-home buyers should take a look at what it has to offer.
Poike is Tauranga's fastest-growing suburb in terms of home values, according to new data.
Sandwiched between Greerton and Hairini, median values in Poike grew 9 per cent in the year to March, topping CoreLogic's list of the city's top performing suburbs for the period.
The median value in the suburb was $490,800.
Maungatapu was second with a growth of 7.5 per cent to a median value of $669,800, while Gate Pā's 7 per cent jump to $487,450 came in third.
CoreLogic senior property economist Kelvin Davidson said Tauranga's market was generally pretty buoyant, however, first-home buyers were struggling with the elevated prices.
Signs of softer growth in more expensive areas, including Bethlehem and Matua, was reasonably clear evidence that these suburbs had become the least affordable, he said.
"The flipside will apply in the fastest-growing suburbs – these are where values tend to be lower and hence more affordable, with a bit more headroom for growth."
There were only 19 houses sold in Poike in the year to March. But Davidson said there were only 248 properties in the area, which meant it had a high turnover rate of 7.7 per cent.
Bayleys and Eves Realty chief operating officer Heath Young said although Poike recorded the city's fastest-rising values, there were only 19 sales in the suburb in the past year - compared with 159 sales in Matua.
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"With a smaller volume and sample, this can lead to a couple of more significant sales impacting on the overall result."
Young said proximity to major tertiary institutions such as the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology and recent roading upgrades including the Maungatapu underpass had contributed to value growth.
Value for money when neighbouring suburbs experienced a jump in prices was also a factor, he said.
"Gate Pā, Parkvale and Greerton were the highest-rising suburbs in recent years, so it makes sense that purchasers look at alternative suburbs when assessing value for money."
Based on recent sales in the area, homes in Poike were great family homes, Young said.
"The average [sales] price is $528,000, all three-bedroom and with an average section size of 841sq m represents great value for money for the family."
There were an estimated 860 people living in Poike last year, according to Statistics New Zealand - 110 of those aged between 20 and 24.
General manager of Tremains Bay of Plenty and Waikato, Anton Jones, said areas like Poike, Gate Pā and Maungatapu had proved popular in the past year and were sought after.
Jone said property values in those areas were in the "middle-range" and tended to rise quicker than higher-value suburbs.
"They are very popular with first-home buyers. They have good schools around them and still have a nice community feel."
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said despite the city's growth areas, Tauranga's values had flattened in the past year just like Auckland.
"The rapid increase in property values it has experienced in the big years 2015 and 2016 has slowed somewhat."
However, the areas with the highest rise in values tended to be the more affordable suburbs or higher-value areas.
"Mount Maunganui is always going to have rising values. It is still going to find buyers mainly because of its location and proximity to the beach.
"Affordable suburbs where we will see a lot of first-home buyer activity, that is where we will see value increasing at a quicker rate."
In the heart of Poike is the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology's Windermere campus, where about 5000 students choose to study.
Anthony Robertson, the polytech's executive director of corporate services, said 30 per cent of students studying at Windermere lived within 5km of the campus.
Toi Ohomai inherited the Windermere campus in Poike when the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Waiariki Institute of Technology merged to create the new institute in May 2016.
The Windermere campus opened in 1982 as part of Bay of Plenty Community College, which changed its name to the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in 1988.
The initial campus included the Rex Williams Centre and a cafe, as well as the childcare centre and the Atrium.
"With around 5000 students, Windermere campus is a thriving and vibrant campus," he said.
The campus moved from its Bongard Centre in the CBD to the Windermere campus at the beginning of this year.
Robertson said the move more than offset the University of Waikato students who shifted from Windermere to the university's new CBD campus on Durham St.
"With regards to our Bongard Centre, we are working with the University of Waikato to establish the best use for that building from a tertiary education perspective," he said.
"We don't know what that is going to be yet and there are a range of options to consider, but we're working through that process together so that we can make the best decision for learners in the Bay of Plenty."
Tauranga suburb sales - 12 months to March
Gate Pā 121
Mount Maunganui 500
Pāpāmoa Beach 669
Pyes Pa 272
Tauranga Central 49
Tauranga South 99
Welcome Bay 209
Poike's population as at June 30, 2018
Total population: 860
0-19 years: 270
20-39 years: 300
40-59 years: 185
60-79 years: 95
Source: Statistics New Zealand