Fewer homes are being sold in Tauranga, according to figures for January.
The median value of homes sold in Tauranga also dropped sharply last month compared with December but was still $100,000 more than a year earlier.
Those are the main findings from Reinz figures on January home sales that were released yesterday.
In total 78 homes sold in Tauranga last month, compared to 138 in January 2016.
January is traditionally a slow month for the housing market, and it is not surprising that sales numbers should be lower than December. However, the numbers were also down when compared with January last year.
The drop in median values between December and January was likely caused by more expensive homes being sold before Christmas and cheaper ones being sold at the start of this year, according to one real estate agent.
Nevertheless, figures from the past couple of months and comments from industry insiders suggest that the days of rocketing house prices are coming to an end.
The chief executive of Eves and Bayleys Real Estate, Ross Stanway, said the market seemed to be normalising after the rapid price increases.
"We've been conditioned to two years of rising prices, and that has certainly flattened out," Mr Stanway said. "What we're seeing now is something many people would welcome, which is a more normal market."
Mr Stanway said low interest rates, high levels of buyer demand and a growing regional population were still supporting the market.
Anton Jones of First National was surprised to learn that the city had fewer sales than the Mount and Papamoa, as this was exceedingly rare.
He suggested that a quiet December had taken two or three weeks to filter through to January's figures, as it could take some time for sales to go unconditional.
Mr Jones said his office had "a very, very busy" January, with sales numbers up a healthy 50 per cent over the same month last year.
"It seems everybody must have stopped for Christmas earlier than usual," he said of the Reinz data. "Without a doubt, it picked up in January."
Reinz regional director Philip Searle said there was "less activity" in the Bay of Plenty, especially from investors.
Homes sold in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato in January had been on the market for an average of 44 days, compared with just 32 days in December. However, the average during the past 10 years had been 58 days.
Across the wider Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions, sales dropped by a whopping 34 per cent.
The newly released home values are medians, which are calculated by listing all homes sold from least expensive to most expensive and choosing the value in the middle.
Home for homebuyers
Prospective homebuyer Lynn Hanson welcomed the drop in Tauranga's median house prices.
Lynn Hanson, who recently, moved to Tauranga from Australia, is looking to buy a home with her son and his wife.
The house prices in Australia were "not as high as they are in Tauranga", she said.
"But I do think with the median price coming down; people are going to be more realistic rather than just having auctions all the time, there will be more price listings," she said.
"I can have a look around now with more confidence to find a home I want to live in, rather than just one I can afford. We've got a bit more bargaining power. When I looked over here two years ago, it was a seller's market. That seems to have changed a little."
Ms Hanson's son, Mark Page, said he and his wife Petrina also noticed houses coming off auctions.
"We know where we stand with price listings. And a lot of people find auctions intimidating," he said.
Mr Page said the price drop offered them more options.
What they were looking for was a nice three-bedroom home, but each had resigned themselves to accepting they could probably only afford a two-bedroom place as opposed to a "not-so-nice three-bedroom" place.
"Now there is a little bit of hope," Mr Page said.
Tauranga median sale prices
January 2017: $540,000
December 2016: $600,000
January 2016: $440,000
Mount / Papamoa median sale prices
January 2017: $632,500
December 2016: $615,000
January 2016: $580,000
Tauranga home sale numbers
January 2017: 78
December 2016: 121
January 2016: 138
Mount / Papamoa home sale numbers
January 2017: 80
December 2016: 85
January 2016: 89