Tauranga has its first million-dollar suburb, according to a new report.
Median values in Mount Maunganui have now tipped over the $1 million mark, according to CoreLogic's Best of the Best 2020, with Matua not far behind.
The report identifies the top-performing suburbs over the past year and predicts what 2021 might bring.
Experts say the year brought unexpected events, including the strong post-lockdown rebound.
With key drivers including low mortgage rates and a tight supply of listings, it was hard to see the property market being thrown off course in 2021, the report said.
CoreLogic senior property economist Kelvin Davidson said Tauranga and Rotorua had joined in the property upswing since lockdown.
Both cities had a number of suburbs where median values recorded double-digit growth in the past 12 months, he said.
Mount Maunganui remained the most expensive suburb in the city, topping the $1m mark, while Parkvale was the cheapest at $523,150.
"The upswing has seen Tauranga get its first million-dollar suburb this year, with Mount Maunganui entering that bracket.
"It wouldn't be a surprise to see property values rise further across Bay of Plenty in the early stages of 2021, but moves to require a 40 per cent deposit from investors will probably take some heat out of the market."
However, median values in Matua had the biggest rise - increasing by 12 per cent, or $102,600, in the past year to $954,500.
Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa Ray White franchise owner, Greg Purcell, said predictions of a downturn post-lockdown proved incorrect and "suddenly there was this tsunami of real estate interest".
"Post-lockdown has been frantic," he said, "it's been positively stressful and full-on."
Buyers were finding it difficult to get on to the property ladder, he said.
"For every house that sold there was usually a few parties wanting it. There's been multi-offers and pre-auction offers going on."
Looking forward to 2021, Purcell said the big game-changers were usually unheralded.
He said the sharp rise in property prices was not going to be sustainable for a long period and would need to level off at some point.
"But at the moment, there are no signs of things stopping because it's a supply-and-demand issue and there's a lot of demand and not a lot of supply."
The median value growth in Matua and Mount Maunganui was not surprising, he said.
"When the market is on fire those are the suburbs that burn the brightest.
"The Mount is a destination in New Zealand. If you want to be at the heart of it that's the money you pay now."
Managing director of Realty Group Limited, which operates Eves and Bayleys, Simon Anderson, said the Bay's market activity post-lockdown had been "unexpected and unprecedented".
"We saw multiple people trying to buy [a single] property. Once they missed out, they became more aggressive towards not missing out again. That's what has been fuelling the market."
Anderson said people were buying higher-value properties in the Mount because of the shift towards working from home.
"The demand for that area won't stop. People are moving there for the lifestyle and some may feel connected to the area after visiting there for the summer.
"It's a cool place to be."
Matua had quality homes, good schools and amenities, easy access to the CBD and the harbour, he said.
On the other hand, Parkvale was an attractive area for investors and first-home buyers, Anderson said.
He expected the market to ease off heading into Christmas before picking back up again in January and February.
"With the level of buyer interest the market will carry on but it will be restricted by availability of stock coming on to the market."
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said its December data showed the biggest risers were Brookfield, Bellevue and Matua.
In the wider Bay of Plenty, Kawerau boasted the greatest five-year increase in median values at a whopping 200.7 per cent.
Fordlands in Rotorua recorded a 28.9 per cent rise in median value and 18.7 per cent in Mamaku.
"Fordlands has seen property moving quickly too, with median days to sell at just 12 over the past year."
However, the suburb still remained the cheapest in terms of median value at $299,950.
Tihiotonga was the most expensive suburb with a median value of $775,850. The suburb also recorded the shortest days on the market of just six.
Ray White Rotorua business owner Anita Martelli said there was strong interest from investors and first-home buyers in Fordlands.
"The investors have a strong interest in that area because the prices are low and it gives them the returns they're looking for.
"But the first home buyers are also looking in that area to be able to get into the market."
The past few months had been busy for the company with plenty of multi-offers, Martelli said.
"We haven't seen any downturn at all. Rotorua has been having really good growth," she said.
"I think Covid has meant people are spending more money on their houses and more money on getting to the next level."
Striking while the market's hot
Janelle and Glenn Robinson's single-storey, three-bedroom, brick-and-tile home in Pāpāmoa attracted a lot of interest before it was sold at auction recently.
The Robinsons had lived in the home for five years and are now building a new home.
"The market is running so hot we wanted to get a bigger piece of land before it got too late and large sections are very hard to come by," Janelle Robinson said. "It was a prime time to sell."
The pair had done a lot of work to the property over the years before bringing it to the market, including revamping the gardens and outdoor entertainment area.
The property went on to the market on a Wednesday for a three-week marketing campaign.
The first open home on Sunday attracted more than 20 buyers, Robinson said.
"We pretty much had about 15 or more buyers through every Sunday after that," she said.
"Beyond that, we had private viewings regularly each week. I can only count on one hand the days we didn't have people through."
Robinson said interest came from families and young couples wanting to get on to the property ladder.
A pre-auction offer was accepted, Robinson said, which brought the auction forward a couple of days.
"We had nine bidders in the room."
Robinson said their real estate agent Ashley Spiller helped to make it all happen and the home secured a "record price" for the street.
"We're very happy."