Te Puke's surge in property prices has transformed the sleepy kiwifruit centre into the Western Bay of Plenty's newest boom town.
Te Puke has experienced the highest surge in property prices in the past year throughout both the Western Bay and Tauranga markets.
In QV figures released yesterday , Te Puke experienced a 14.3 per cent increase in property prices in the year to September 30, 2017. Within the past two years, the price change has surged 49.1 per cent. Further along the Bay coast, Pukehina experienced a 12.8 per cent increase in the past year and 49.4 per cent in the past two.
The figures mean the median house price in Te Puke was $315,500 in 2015. As of October 31, 2017, the median house price is $474,350.
Rochelle Carter from Ray White Te Puke said the town was being recognised as a growth area attracting families keen on the local schooling and businesses transferring to the area.
"First-home buyers are finding they can purchase an 800sq m section with a three-bedroom house for mid-$400,000s. Supply and demand has pushed the prices up, plus prior to the LVR restrictions were enforced we had a good percentage of properties selling as investments," she said.
"Buyers were now recognising Te Puke as an area of choice to live, now Te Puke is recognised with good schooling and transport options plus a strong business growth area offering jobs opportunities."
Carter said in the past year there had been many businesses transferring the premises to the Te Puke area, offering more local job opportunities and the town had experienced roading and beautification projects. Carter said she believed the Te Puke market had stabilised after "such huge increases".
Further along the coast, the median prices of a house in Pukehina in 2015 was $453,450 compared to $683,750 this year.
Supply and demand has pushed the prices up, plus prior to the LVR restrictions were enforced we had a good percentage of properties selling as investments.
Carter said Pukehina was being marketed to a wide audience, including expats looking to return to New Zealand interested in beachfront properties.
"Pukehina is a supply and demand area, having only 7.5km of beachfront properties and estuary frontage properties which are very sought after."
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Services which operates Eves and Bayleys, said Tauranga's market was still healthy but "just not as active as 12 months ago".
Anderson said the Tauranga Eastern Link was a factor in Te Puke and Pukehina's increases and the Western Bay was coming off a slower market compared to Tauranga.
Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said his team was experiencing a few first-home buyers and investors, "that would hold the median prices from rising".
"If there's extra volume in the lower price bracket it will hold the median from rising and we have got a lot more buyers that lower price house market."
Martin said people were saving more to meet the LVR requirements, which subsequently had less of an effect because people were forced to save.
Buying in Te Puke a 'no-brainer'
You couldn't pay Te Puke businessman Tony Androos to live anywhere else.
"No matter how much Te Puke grows in value, it's always still got that country feel. You are not living on your neighbour's doorstep," Androos said.
Te Puke has experienced a rapid surge in property prices this year, reflective of increased demand in the local housing market. QV figures show Te Puke property values have increased by 49.1 per cent in the past two years. Within the past year, Te Puke has had the highest increase, 14.3 per cent, in values out of anywhere else the Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga region.
Androos and his family moved to the Bay of Plenty town about three years ago from Kerikeri. The father-of-two owns Tony's Kebabs and has just bought the family's second home in Te Puke, having sold their first.
"Even though numbers have gone up, compared to Papamoa you are getting way more for your money. No doubt about it."
Androos declined to go into specifics but said he was surprised at how much more the family's first home sold for from when they bought it about a month ago.
"We didn't buy a house in Te Puke to double it or make money. We just wanted a good family home with the land. Compared to what we were looking at in Papamoa, we have three times the land, three times the size of the house."
Androos explored the option of buying in Papamoa "but for what I was going to pay for it, I could get so much more in Te Puke".
"Wherever you looked in the back garden in Papamoa there was a neighbour there, a neighbour there, a neighbour there, all enclosed. We would rather live here than somewhere like that. The locals here are spectacular. It's a good community. The atmosphere, the respect the people have, the attitude is just great. It's an awesome place."
Androos said the benefits of living in Te Puke had not changed despite the housing market having grown in "leaps and bounds" in his time there.
Androos, who lived in Australia until five years ago, said there was no other place he would rather be.
What do you love about living in Te Puke?
"It's just the area and the weather. I've lived in other places ... and it's always too hot and too wet. The weather is definitely best here."
Alan Vickers, Te Puke
"It's the small town feel of Te Puke. It has everything here we need."
Jan Cotter, Te Puke
"It's a small town, small community. That's about it."
Sarah Bildermouth, Te Puke