Central Auckland property owners might spare a brief but sympathetic thought for many of their fellow owners in provincial areas.
Every day there are reports about Auckland's soaring property prices, while home owners in some coastal settlements watch as their property values continue to fall.
Property markets in parts of the Far North and some other coastal centres remain in the doldrums a full six years after the height of the last peak in 2007.
While the dramatic falls experienced in the last few years are levelling off, there is little or no talk of the Auckland house price surge reaching the Far North any time soon.
However, the worst of the bust in coastal property prices seems to be over. Mortgagee sales are nowhere near as prevalent as they were two years ago, and prices are starting to consolidate rather than decline.
Most areas have also experienced a progressive increase in the number of properties sold each month through much of this year, a trend that strengthened in recent months.
Property prices in the larger regional cities of Hamilton and Tauranga turned some years ago, and there has been steady growth in most of their suburbs. Whangarei and Rotorua have had more challenging markets, although even here the numbers of properties being sold has increased significantly in the last three months.
Hamilton's median house price hit a six-year high in September, and held the record figure throughout October. Local real estate agents suggest the positive trend which began six months ago has continued through November.
Tauranga and Mt Maunganui have bucked the general regional and coastal trends, and section sales in areas close to the beach, such as Papamoa, continue to sell well.
This is hardly surprising given the area's climate, the suburb's proximity to a fantastic stretch of beach, and the fact that the area continues to enjoy one of the country's fastest population growth rates.
Initial results from this year's census revealed Tauranga was the sixth-fastest growing territorial area in the country between 2006 and this year.
The latest QV figures show Mt Maunganui and Papamoa Beach sales prices increased by 3.45 per cent and 4.39 per cent during the three months to the end of September this year, compared with their 2012 capital values.
It took an average of 41 days to sell property in Tauranga during October, compared with an October average of 44 days over the last decade.
Parts of the Coromandel, and in particular Whangamata, were among the first to bounce back into recovery after 2007. Nor did prices fall as sharply in Whangamata as they did in other coastal centres where developers had invested more heavily in new subdivisions.
In Whangamata, which has enjoyed one of the best winter sales periods for years, Andrew McGee of Whangamata Real Estate reports that some monthly sales figures matched the usually stronger summer season this year.
Since 2008 there have been between eight and 15 property sales a month in the town, but during the last six months there have been at least 20 sales a month.
"We are starting to see increases in prices with some properties selling above where we would have picked the market to be," he says. "There are buyers in all ranges of properties, including at the top end."
He believes there are two reasons the town has enjoyed a lift in sales. "We are getting a lot of buyers from Auckland, where their equity in their homes has increased, and they are able to look at buying beach houses."
There were also increasing numbers of retired or semi-retired people wanting to buy a beach property.
Not all properties sold in Whangamata in the last few months reached capital value, although at least two examples of sales in the depths of winter did so. A property at 107A Silkwood Lane sold for $250,000 in August, $5000 above capital valuation.
Another property, at 110 Sharyn Place, sold a full $40,000 above capital valuation, at $260,000.
Towards the top end of the market, four properties sold well above $660,000 during August, and in September almost half the properties sold in Whitianga found buyers willing to pay $500,000 or more.
QV figures show that sales prices in Matarangi during the three months to September were 2.46 per cent ahead of their 2012 capital valuation, while in Pauanui they were 2.55 per cent ahead. Thames enjoyed a 6.5 per cent increase during the same period.
Other coastal regions have just as impressive beaches as the Coromandel but, with some exceptions, the housing markets are marking time rather than soaring. In many the number of sales has increased steadily throughout this year, but prices have only nudged upwards.
It is in the areas closest to Auckland that the more pronounced ripple effect of that city's market is being felt.
For example even land-locked towns such as Warkworth and Wellsford have been experiencing the beneficial effects of central Auckland's rising prices.
Homes sold in Warkworth for 20.41 per cent above their 2011 capital valuation during the three months to September this year, and 17.71 per cent above CV in Wellsford.
The principal of Ray White Bogue Real Estate in Warkworth, Ken Bogue, says financially strapped home buyers have been looking to the city fringes for affordable properties.
And, gradually, more Aucklanders are deciding that country living is worth a longer commute to work.
Real Estate Institute sales figures for Rodney North (covering centres such as Algies Bay, Leigh, Mahurangi, Omaha, Pt Wells, Snells Beach and Tomarata, as well as Warkworth and Wellsford) during September show increased sales of both residential and rural/lifestyle properties.
"After lulling around the mid-forties, residential sales numbers increased to over 50 in September, which is the fourth highest volume for the year," he says.
Wellsford is the surprise performer. Long regarded as trendier Warkworth's poorer cousin, it appears to be benefitting from Auckland's high prices.
During September there were 10 sales in Wellsford, with the top sale for $360,000, and half of the sales below $240,000. Those prices look attractive to people prepared to spend at least an hour commuting into work, especially if their work is in Auckland's northern suburbs such as Albany.
Bogue says the Reserve Bank's restrictions on low value to ratio buyers may have contributed to the increase in sales in his area, although he says inquiries have fallen since the restrictions were imposed on October 1.
But there have been encouraging signs in the coastal market this year, with a Snells Beach property on the market for almost three years finally selling in August. Another property in Warkworth finally sold after being on the market for 32 months. The average number of days it took to sell a property in Auckland in September was just 29 days.
A real estate veteran, Bogue is wary of making predictions about what might happen to the market.
"It's just too hard to know," he says. But he does venture as far as saying he believes Omaha will maintain its strength, partly on the back of the increased wealth among Auckland property owners, giving them more confidence to buy a coastal property.
Mangawhai may also be starting to benefit from its proximity to Auckland, with sales in the last three months fetching prices more than 11 per cent above the 2011
The further north you travel the more frequently real estate agents are resorting to the "priced reduced" sales pitch, especially in the Bay of Islands and the Far North, where new capital valuations were announced by the Far North District Council in October.
While not the only factor in a property sale, a new capital value that turns out to be substantially lower than its three-year-old predecessor hardly encourages buyers to pay over the odds.
When Far North District capital values were last reviewed in 2010, the biggest falls were in Kaitaia and on the West Coast. This year the biggest falls were in East Coast settlements such as Coopers Beach and Mangonui.
Most of the decline in CVs in the area is in land value, reflecting the over-supply of developed sections. Land values in Omapere and Opononi fell by almost 40 per cent, and 34 per cent in Doubtless Bay on the east coast.
The good news is that land prices in settlements such as Coopers Beach have steadied in the last year, and values are starting to hold in rather than continue to fall.
Chester Rendell from Bayleys in the Bay of Islands says while there had been more interest from potential buyers lately, the Far North market was still "sluggish".
With capital values falling around 20 per cent, owners of coastal properties at the higher end were shocked by their new CVs. For example a property previously valued around $6.5 million, had fallen to around $4.5 million.
Properties in the $300,000 to $400,000 range were moving but there was still a lot of land available in the Far North.
He believes the sale of the Carrington estate on the Karikari Peninsula to a major Chinese investor was excellent news for the region.
"It is fantastic to see because it is unusual for Asians to invest up here," he says. "Once a major operator moves in like that, it gives other people more confidence to invest
in the area. Big operators give the area credibility with major investors."
While a lot of property had been sold in the Far North at "distressed levels", Rendell says mortgagee sales peaked about two years ago and were no longer such a significant part of the market.
"We are just waiting now for the market to improve."