Experts say Hastings' housing market could lead the way for a regional NZ real estate bounce back after the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the latest OneRoof property report, Hastings was the hottest district in the country before lockdown, with a 35.8 per cent increase from March 2019 to March 2020.

It is the clear leader, with Whanganui at 28.8 per cent second and Invercargill third at 26.4 per cent.

According to OneRoof's property report Hastings is expected to see the biggest annual growth over the coming year with a 35.8 per cent increase from March 2020 to March 2021. Photo / Warren Buckland
According to OneRoof's property report Hastings is expected to see the biggest annual growth over the coming year with a 35.8 per cent increase from March 2020 to March 2021. Photo / Warren Buckland

Napier also had strong growth, with a 14.3 per cent increase.

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Harcourts Hawke's Bay general manager James Cooper said during the level 4 lockdown they saw a definite slow in the market and fewer listings but since the start of level 3 they have seen interest pick up, and better than they would have expected.

"We have received a wide range of inquiries from outside the region from investors, retirees and even expats looking to set up home in the Bay."

He said in a time of financial uncertainty many across the country may be looking to regions like Hawke's Bay where prices are cheaper and more affordable compared to the big cities, but time will tell on how much of a shift Covid-19 will have.

OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said a district such as Hastings is now even more desirable because strong agriculture and food producing made it a more secure job location.

The key factor that will determine the future of New Zealand's housing markets is unemployment, he said.

Harcourts Hawke's Bay general manager James Cooper said that since the start of level 3 interest has picked up once again and better than they would have expected. Photo / File
Harcourts Hawke's Bay general manager James Cooper said that since the start of level 3 interest has picked up once again and better than they would have expected. Photo / File

"Cities and regions that are reliant on tourism dollars will be more exposed than those where agriculture and government are the major employers," he said.

"With that in mind, Hastings tops the regions for 12-month growth and is high up the tables for quarterly growth.

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"It looks to be in a good position, as does Napier, which is slightly lower down the growth tables but still recording strong numbers."

Business Hawke's Bay CEO Carolyn Neville echoed Vaughan's sentiments, and said Hastings was in a particularly strong position to rebound.

There will be some negative effect.

The OneRoof report also states that "hot" suburbs that are popular with first-home buyers and investors - typically low value suburbs that have seen huge value growth in the past 12-months - may be at risk of big price drops.

Vaughan said that although the real estate market isn't at risk of collapsing, the Covid-19 crisis is likely to knock buyer and seller confidence further into the future.