House sales in Tauranga are up 21 per cent on last year, hitting the highest level in 18 months thanks to confidence in the economy and interest from Aucklanders, industry experts say.
During November, 148 houses were sold in Tauranga, compared with 138 in October and 122 houses in November 2013, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures.
November sales were similarly high in Mount Maunganui/Papamoa - up by 34 from October and 17 more than last November, to a total of 121 sales.
Chief executive of Realty Services, which operates Eves and Bayleys, Ross Stanway attributed more listings, increased buyer interest from Aucklanders and a good level of "justifiable confidence" to the sales increase.
"We've seen pent up demand from buyers because, up until a few months ago, there was a fairly low level of listings to choose from," he said.
"Now, the demand is coming from both people in the region and people from out of town."
Tauranga Harcourts general manager Nigel Martin said increased activity reflected "the positive nature of business around town".
"There's definitely been a lot more confidence in the local market," he said. "People are coming to the region for job opportunities, and to purchase property for investment and retirement."
The bulk of out-of-towners were from Auckland, he said.
Tauranga LJ Hooker co-principal Neville Falconer said 148 sales was the highest reported volume since May 2013.
"Average and median prices have come down a little and more listings have come into the market," he said. "We've also had a lot of interest from people who have sold in Auckland or who are looking to sell and move down to the Bay."
High confidence from an improved employment situation, stable interest rates and stable government had probably also contributed to the sales increase, he said.
REINZ Waikato/Bay of Plenty director Philip Searle concurred a high level of interest in the Bay of Plenty market from Auckland buyers had impacted on the market.
Meanwhile, REINZ said the four largest markets - Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury/Westland and Waikato/Bay of Plenty - represented 78 per cent of all sales in November.