More than 200 homes have been sold in Tauranga already this year, new data shows.
Tauranga real estate agents say it has been a strong start to the year, with January continuing the trend from December.
The latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data showed 214 homes sold last month after 304 sold in December 2019. It was more than the 187 sold in January 2019 and 159 in January 2018.
The city's median house price had also jumped 14.4 per cent to $710,000 from $665,000 in the year to January 2020.
Meanwhile, median house prices in the wider Bay of Plenty reached a record $683,000 - 17.8 per cent up from $580,000 at the same time last year.
The Bay also recorded the highest percentage in annual sales volumes for the month of January in four years - 11.5 per cent to 379 homes from 340.
General manager of Tremains Bay of Plenty and Waikato Anton Jones said January had been a good month for Tauranga.
"We had a late run into spring which is generally the big listing month but things started to kick back into gear in November.
"So December was busy and so was the time in between Christmas and New Year, and since then the market has been pretty buoyant."
Jones said there were a lot of buyers in the market currently but they were a "little bit picky" and because of that, he was not seeing the values go up.
"The outlook is pretty reasonable but we are not expecting the prices will skyrocket. There are, however, a lot of first-home buyers out there which is a bit of a change since mid-2019."
Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said it was a good start to the year.
Martin said December was one of the best months the company had had for a while and January continued the trend.
"There were buyers across the board, including investors and first-home buyers buying at both ends of the market, which was really encouraging.
"It was a solid start to the year."
However, he said there was a lower housing stock compared with last January.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said Tauranga had a strong start to the year despite sales volumes being slightly down on December.
Vaughan put the sales volumes down to return of investors into the market and strong buyer activity. However, he expected the growth in Tauranga to start to die down a bit.
REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said homeowners across most of the Bay of Plenty will have been pleased with the price achieved for their properties in January, with the Western Bay ($740,000) one of six districts achieving record median prices.
Norwell said the increase in median price was predominately a result of an uplift in million-dollar-plus sales in the Bay, which increased 16.4 per cent in January 2020.
"On the flip side, this makes it even harder for first-time buyers to get on to the property ladder and means that the period of time they need to save for a deposit is likely to increase even further."
Overall, Norwell said there had been increased levels of confidence in the Bay, which resulted in good auction levels.
Additional reporting - Leah Tebbutt
Tauranga City's property market trend
Median house price: $710,000
Sale count: 214
Days to sell: 36
Median house price: $665,000
Sale count: 187
Days to sell: 53
Median house price: $635,000
Sale count: 159
Days to sell: 59
Source: Real Estate Institute of New Zealand
Homeownership dream come true
"Don't give up on your dream."
Those are the words of first-home buyer Kaysi Fredericks who thought she would never be able to get on to Tauranga's property ladder.
The mother-of-five and husband Sam are celebrating after being able to buy their first home in Pyes Pā.
Fredericks said homeownership was made possible thanks to her mother who sold her home, which helped the pair put down the deposit.
"The deposit is the hardest part of getting into a home."
Her mother will move in with the family until the couple pay her back.
Her advice now is to never give up on the dream of homeownership.
"Even if that means having to swallow your pride and work with your family members, do it for your family.
"Just don't give up on your dream."
Fredericks is looking forward to moving into her new four-bedroom home in Pyes Pā after going unconditional on Friday. Initially, Fredericks said she was looking to buy in Brookfield close to her children's schools at Bellevue School and Otumoetai Intermediate.
"But every house we went for we either came second or were pipped at the post at auction, or we just hated the house," she said.
Fredericks had been looking since June last year and said it was tricky finding a home that suited her family and her 10-year-old son Aram who had special needs.
"We were starting to get desperate. Then this came up and we fell in love with it ... It ticked all of the boxes."
Fredericks said the couple went to auctions, negotiated the prices, were part of multi-offers and competed at home viewings with 30 to 40 other people.
"There is very low stock at the moment and prices are just going crazy. We had a budget of $750,000 and we were struggling to find one."
Overall, Fredericks described the journey as "exciting but scary".
"We were wondering if we had to move out of Tauranga. I keep saying: 'Pinch me'. I never thought it would happen."