Hawke's Bay house prices have equalled an all-time high, setting the housing market up for a sizzling summer with realtors expecting a new record next month.
Latest data from the Real Estate Institute NZ (REINZ) shows the median house price in Hawke's Bay last month remained at $445,000 for the second month in a row, following a 13.5 per cent hike compared with September last year.
REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said that was down to strong growth in Hastings (up 17.3 per cent) and Napier (up 12.2 per cent).
"Agents are trying to meet buyer interest in the region with very few available listings. Most of the interest is shown by locals, who know the region and they are interested in all price ranges.
"For the more affordable end of the market there is an even split between investors and first home buyers. If listing numbers increase, the upcoming period leading up to Christmas will be busy."
Tremains managing director Simon Tremain agreed.
"The volumes for September were back a bit, so it did feel like there was a bit of a stall in the market place but (so far) October seems to have gone to another level again.
"Our median price is still good but that median is the same as March this year - it then went back a little bit and came back to $445,000 for the past two months. So, I really think that median price will rise again over the next couple of months and I'm sure volume will increase again."
Although there was no longer buyers "clambering over each other", there were still lots of people wanting to buy.
While overall, the region's house prices stayed at a record high, last month's medians in Hastings ($440,000), Napier ($482,500) and CHB ($292,500) were all down on their individual all-time highs.
Hastings District's record median was $456,000 - recorded in June 2018. Napier city's record was $508,000 - recorded in December 2017, while Central Hawke's Bay's record was $340,000 - recorded in November 2017 - $47,500 more than the median house price in CHB last month.
REINZ data also showed last month was the first time in eight months that prices in CHB had fallen year on year.
"The last time was in Jan 2018. Moving from 250,200 in Jan 2017 to 250,000 in Jan 2018 (-0.1 per cent)," a REINZ spokeswoman said.
"Prior to that it was May 2017; a move from 210,000 in May 2016 to 205,000 in May 2017 (-2.4 per cent)."
Although last month's median in CHB was 2.5 per cent down on the same time last year, Tremain put that down as "just a little blip" following on from huge gains recently.
Bayleys Hawke's Bay operations manager Kerry Geange said there had certainly been signs of a traditional spring lift in the regional market.
"From the research and analysis we are doing, it's still very heavy activity in the first-home buyer market. Investors too are starting to come back in. There's been good interest in investment property from outside the region and local investors too are starting to ask questions again."