"A buyers' frenzy" is how real estate experts are describing the Coromandel, where the market is hotter than they've ever experienced.
"I don't know what words you need to describe what's happening in Whangamatā - it's unbelievable some of the prices that have been achieved and it's list today, sell tomorrow," says Murray Cleland.
"I've had 35 years in real estate and I've never seen a buying frenzy like this in my time."
Agents say prices have leapt by 10 per cent in one month in Whangamatā, while in Waihi Beach, beachfront baches have sold for $2.7 million and $2.9m - up to $1.2m above valuation.
Whangamata Real Estate principal Murray Cleland said his predictions that the old 50s, 60s and 70s baches would disappear from the town and be replaced with quality homes had played out, and top-end buyers were snapping them up.
"I'm calling it the Omaha of the south," he said of Whangamatā.
"Anything that goes to the market that's new gets snaffled up. It is a very strong seller's market and matching that is the buyers."
Gordon Turner, principal of First National Real Estate which has offices in Whangamatā, Waihi Beach and Tairua, said while Whangamatā was "probably hotter", both other towns were hot.
"Waihi Beach is cooking, after a long time where it hasn't got off its butt. We just sold a $2.9m beachfront place, which is unheard of in Waihi Beach, a good house but nothing outstanding.
"Last month 15 Shaw Rd went for $2.7m, a basic bach directly behind the beach."
These had valuations of $1.1m and $1.2m than what they sold for.
He said Tairua has had a tough market for four years but the team was getting contracts on everything right now.
"Our listing stock is down to about 11 now. All three offices just can't get enough stock."
Ray White Whangamata hosted six auctions in one event – the most they have ever had in a single day – with four properties selling under the hammer for a combined value of $4,490,000, with a fifth selling straight afterward.
"It was an outstanding auction event with more than 80 people turning up – I actually think I need to invest in a megaphone next time – people were literally spilling out onto the sidewalk outside the office," said Ray White Whangamata principal Reuben van Dorsten.
"The first auction we carried out had a huge 14 registered buyers, eight of whom were active, and sold well over the feedback we had received during the campaign. We would never have got that price via private treaty."
He said each property that sold had between four and eight registered bidders, which represented multiple finance-ready buyers who will be hitting the open home trail again.
Of these sales, 175 Durrant Dr sold for $1.38m, 119B Exeter Rd sold for $1.02m and 113B Williamson Rd sold for $850,000 – all three properties were in Whangamatā itself.
Gordon agreed that auctions were the way to go for vendors. "Putting a price on the property is a dodgy exercise right now if you are interested in getting the most you can for properties.
"And 85 per cent of people are taking that good advice to go to auction."
Murray says Whangamatā was becoming a town where buyers must have $1m to get in the market.
If you don't have a million dollars, don't come to Whangamatā, it's getting like that.
But buyers were also savvy.
He said with all the information that's now available, buyers were arriving already knowing the property.
"They follow the market, 40-year-old kids that have a bit of money together, and they're streetwise. There's so much information they can get before the purchase."
Salesman Andrew McGee said sales at Exeter and Williamson Rds show prices in these areas have gone up by 10 per cent in a single month, as similar properties sold for between $750,000 and $900,000 just four weeks ago.
"We're experiencing the highest demand for property we've ever seen in this town.
There's no doubt that with overseas travel not currently an option, people are looking to snap up a home by the beach, and that was reflected in our buyer profiles.
"The beach houses sold well above the expectations of our sellers and Exeter provided a really interesting story. The under-bidder literally came through the last minute of the last open home and registered to bid and buy there and then.
"There has never been a better time to sell than right now."
Murray predicted the Coromandel would have one of its busiest ever summers and said rentals were also at record numbers.
"It's exciting for the region. Everybody wondered about how they were going to get through, now is the time to make up for it."
Paul Prouse, managing director of Harcourts Coromandel Beaches, says his buyers weren't just seeking baches. Changes were coming to townships as expat Kiwis and younger buyers sought to move down permanently.
"There's still really strong demand in Whitianga, probably because of the size of it, but in Coromandel town as well because it's a lower value compared to the new highs of Whangamatā, Tairua and Pauanui.
"It's quite surprising how much money people do actually have to buy beach property. People are looking at their lifestyle and realising they can work remotely part-time at the beach."
Gary Alway, LJ Hooker Waihi Beach, said it's not expats all buying up back at the beaches of home, but many city-dwellers and mature buyers.
"Yes there are those leaving the big cities, but they're not young people, often aged 56 and up buying in our area and the over 60s, who are buying with a view to moving here permanently earlier than anticipated. Covid has probably helped in that decision, as they want to move to a smaller town for health reasons."
Murray Cleland has just returned from a national sales conference and said the sales were up in most parts of New Zealand. He also observed that some agents would face changes in how they operated due to the need for strict confidentiality over information about vendors.
"Real estate agents today are right up there as a solicitor with confidentiality."
While the Bay of Plenty had always been a popular holiday destination, especially Mount Maunganui, the "hot spots" for holiday homes had changed slightly, managing director of Realty Group Ltd, which owns Bayleys and Eves Simon Anderson said.
"It's permanent residents living there now and we are seeing [buyers] stretch down to Pāpāmoa and people are then willing to go to Pukehina, Ōhope, Ōhiwa and further down the coast there to find their piece of paradise.
"That just pushes prices up, it affects price appreciation as demand grows."
Anderson believed the current global environment, coupled with low-interest rates and 10 years of "reasonably good returns, cash-wise" for businesses meant people were running to property for investments.
That resulted in property being sold above valuation more often than not, he said.
"When you are seeing multiple people attending auctions and bidding, you know prices can only go one way. Especially in this time of the year, people look to do things before Christmas so they can use their beach house for Christmas."
Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said people had always bought holiday homes in the Bay of Plenty and this year was no different aside from the volume of people buying.
"That is reflected in the volume of sales that has occurred so its the same dynamic...but I think the reason there is a few more selling is because people can't go overseas and decided to holiday locally."
Martin said the prices of holiday homes were "across the board" but many were selling above valuation mostly due to the change in the market from when the properties were first valued.
Those buying were generally from a three-hour drive radius he said and were always looking for houses near the beach rather than Tauranga.
"Anywhere that is close to the beach is really considered a holiday destination especially for people in the Waikato."