In spite of an "extremely busy" March in Tauranga's property market, for the first time this year the city did not hit a new record median house price.
Nearly 300 properties changed hands last month in Tauranga, where house prices have risen by nearly a quarter in a year.
Agents say a more settled market is good news but an emerging trend has houses still selling at good prices, but buyers shopping around before sealing the deal.
Despite a slight lift in listings, agents say the challenge now is waiting for supply to match demand.
The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand's latest data shows 295 properties sold last month w compared to 273 in February and 255 in March 2020, when New Zealand went into lockdown.
Tauranga's median house price dropped just 0.4 per cent to $901,000 from $905,000 in February - still a whopping 23.5 per cent jump from $730,000 a year ago.
According to REINZ the last time Tauranga did not have a record median price was in December 2020.
Median prices also dropped slightly in the Western Bay of Plenty to $850,000 from $855,000 the month before.
It was a regionwide trend with median prices in the Bay falling to $822,000 from $848,250 in February.
Managing director of the Realty Group Ltd, which operates Eves and Bayleys, Simon Anderson said it was good to see some settling in the market.
"We want to see a sustainable market."
Anderson said the high number of property sales was not surprising as March was "an extremely busy month".
The challenge ahead was the number of new properties coming to the market was not matching how fast they were selling, he said.
"There is less available stock."
Anderson said owners' price expectations had also reached a level where buyers were saying enough is enough.
"Vendors have every right to expect maximum for their properties. But we're certainly seeing a change in the market without question where transactions aren't happening as quickly as they were previously."
First National Real Estate Tauranga general manager Cameron Hooper said March was certainly busy but "it doesn't feel like a record".
"It felt like things were flattening down anyway. There's not quite a frenzy for every house.
"We're still short of stock hence the prices are holding firm."
Hooper said seven out of 10 offers were getting genuine owner-occupiers and not investors.
"We're noticing we're still getting really good prices for everything and that's not set to change."
A few more listings were coming onto the market, he said.
"All of the agents are doing loads of appraisals every week but none are coming to the market. People are in the background doing their homework, but there's a lack of stock to choose from so they're deciding not to go on the market."
Harcourts Tauranga managing director Simon Martin said March was typically a big month for sales.
"Only last year there was a dip because we were heading into Covid lockdown. Last year was an anomaly."
Martin said although last month followed a traditional pattern it was "nothing stellar".
"But we have noticed an increase in listings."
Meanwhile, the number of Rotorua properties sold skyrocketed last month - including more than a dozen over the $1 million mark - driving the city to a new record median house price of $650,000.
There were 114 sales last month compared to 78 in February and 82 in March last year.
Rotorua's REINZ spokeswoman and First National principal Ann Crossley put the rush in sales volumes down to the Government's housing plan changes being "clearly heralded".
REINZ regional director Neville Falconer said supply levels continued to be an issue for the region.
New listings dropped 7.8 per cent from the same time last year and available stock decreased 32.9 per cent, leaving just seven weeks of available inventory.
"Low levels of stock and high levels of demand have resulted in strong competition for good properties."
Therefore, the median number of days to sell has dropped four days from the same time last year to 28 days, the lowest level for a March month on record.
Falconer said auctions continued to be a popular method of sale for the region, with 47 per cent of all sales being completed by auction, up from 19 per cent at the same time last year.
"However, access to finance is becoming harder for some buyers as banks continue to
place conditions on buyers."
March property statistics
Tauranga - median price
March 2021: $901,000
February 2021: $905,000
March 2020: $730,000
Tauranga - volume sold
March 2021: 295
February 2021: 273
March 2020: 255
Western Bay - median price
March 2021: $850,000
February 2021: $855,000
March 2020: $675,000
Western Bay - volume sold
March 2021: 70
February 2021: 79
March 2020: 56