Tauranga's property hotspots have been revealed in a new report showing where house prices were heating up.
The latest OneRoof property report showed property prices were rising in Gate Pā, Judea, Hairini, Tauranga South and Maungatapu.
All five suburbs recorded a 2 per cent growth in median value the last quarter from November to January.
The median value in Gate Pā was $500,000, $530,000 in Judea, $545,000 in Hairini, $605,000 in Tauranga South and $630,000 in Maungatapu.
However, property prices were cooling down in Matapihi and Tauranga Central, where the median value dropped 2 per cent. Median values in Matua, Ōhauiti and Parkvale had stayed the same.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said Tauranga had experienced a relatively flat summer holiday period in terms of median values, with an annual growth rate of just 3.1 per cent.
Buyers could expect to pay as much as $675,000 in Tauranga, he said.
"Tauranga has been ticking away quite well and it has been buoyant but now we are starting to see a slowdown," he said.
"That doesn't mean the market is crashing, it just means it is in a new power of a cycle."
Despite this, Vaughan said Tauranga property experts reported strengthening activity levels among certain locations and buyer groups.
"Investors are starting to come back to the city and for the first time, they have their growth has outstripped the growth in registrations for first home buyers," he said.
"Even though first home buyers are still the dominant group, they haven't grown their share as much as investors. Investors are starting to see Tauranga as a good place to put their money again."
Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said the city's property market had seen a resurgence in first home buyers and investors, which had brought back the median sale price.
Martin said the last few months had seen "solid demand", which was encouraging but did not reflect the volume of sales.
There are "substantially less" houses for sale compared to this time last year, he said.
Heath Young, chief executive of the Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys, said steady increases in suburbs still priced at attractive levels for first home buyers, retirees and families represented value for money.
Young said a drop in property prices was to be expected in areas where there had been rapid recent increases in prices and buyer demand has not kept up with respective price growth.
Rags to riches property story
A Tauranga woman who grew up in a family of six siblings in a state home has bought her first home.
Chris Slipper never thought she would be able to buy her own home. Now, the 44-year-old can call her two-bedroom KiwiBuild home in Ōmokoroa her own.
"I am like the rags to riches story," Slipper said.
Slipper and her partner Janelle worked hard to get a deposit together. The couple moved to Tauranga from Auckland in 2011.
"We weren't getting ahead in Auckland. We had a fun life, but we weren't making a future," she said.
"We wanted to own our own home one day but we knew that wasn't going to happen in Auckland."
The couple saved up enough money for their deposit but first decided to spend it on fertility treatment to be able to have their first child - a son Phoenix who is now 2-and-a-half years old.
The couple dropped down to one income for the first year so one could raise their son while the other partner worked.
"We just survived on one income while we were renting."
In September last year, the couple decided to move out after their landlord decided to paint the rental.
"I said if they painted it 'for sale grey' we had to move out. They painted it grey," Slipper said.
Slipper said she had grown up in a state home and had no idea how to buy a home, so the couple enlisted a mortgage broker.
The couple found out they had more than enough KiwiSaver between them and were also eligible for the HomeStart grant.
However, Slipper said they had found it difficult to find a bank who would lend to a couple on one income but they eventually found one willing to give them a chance.
Slipper looked at KiwiBuild homes in the Kaimai Views subdivision in Ōmokoroa and found a two-bedroom, single storey home they both liked.
The couple was still short a few thousand dollars to be able to afford it but had forgotten about the inheritance left by Carter's grandfather when he passed.
"We literally had just enough, no more, no less," Slipper said.
The couple moved in on November 14 last year and Slipper said the family had fish and chips on the floor of their new home.
"It is an amazing feeling. Growing up I was led to believe it was an impossible dream," she said.
"It is truly fantastic. I am the first one in my family to do so - and now my son now has his own home."
Tauranga's biggest sales
7 Benham Rd, Okere Falls
25 Willow Ave, Hannahs Bay
374a Hamurana Rd, Ngongotaha
* Sales figures for properties that have settled in last 3 months.
Source: Real Estate Institute of New Zealand