Aucklanders and Queenslanders are among the highest viewers of Northland properties, with investors who took a back step during the lockdown now competing with first home buyers in the region.
Northland's average house price jumped by nearly 3 per cent to sit at $715,777 in August and the most popular areas searched were Kerikeri, Mangawhai, Russell, Waipū and Paihia.
Figures supplied by realestate.co.nz show of the 122,615 viewings for Northland properties in the 90 days to September 2, 62,500 or just over 51 per cent were Aucklanders.
Second on the search list were Queenslanders at nearly 5000 viewings, Waikato 4400, and New South Wales 4300.
A further 3500 came from Wellington, 3300 from England, 3200 from Bay of Plenty, 2900 each from Canterbury and Victoria, and 1700 from Western Australia.
Realestate.co.nz has about 97 per cent of all properties listed for sale in New Zealand.
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Tom Clarkson moved his family from Auckland to Whangārei in December last year for a more appealing lifestyle and reckons he should have made the move years ago.
He works in a local school while his wife, who worked as an anaesthetic technician in Auckland, managed to land a similar job at the Kensington Hospital.
The couple sold their house on One Tree Hill in the mid $700,000s and bought one in Kamo for mid $600,000 which is three times bigger than they had in Auckland.
"The thing that most appealed to us was the lifestyle. There's so much time here compared to being stuck in traffic in Auckland so the quality of life has improved.
"We are making the most of the beautiful beaches and surroundings that Whangārei has to offer.
"I feel like I should have moved up here years ago. Whangārei is an up and coming town where I've met a lot of young families who are in a similar situation as me," Clarkson said.
He said while he was happy working as a deputy principal in the City of Sails and reluctant to move, his decision to live in Whangārei was to improve the quality of life and increase family time.
"The cost of childcare is substantially less up here and it's also so much quicker to do things anywhere in Whangārei in 10 minutes whereas in Auckland, a 10-minute job can take an hour," he said.
As an educator, Clarkson said it was very exciting when thinking about planning a local curriculum and the abundance of authentic learning opportunities that were available within our community.
Figures show that although 66 per cent of the viewers did not enter a price range, most of those who did were looking to buy for up to $500,000.
There were 919 residential properties for sale in Northland last month, which was down 30 per cent year-on-year— the third biggest drop after Taranaki and Marlborough.
OneRoof.co.nz editor Owen Vaughan said viewers from Queensland and New South Wales were likely to be ex-pat Kiwis keen to either return home or invest in Northland properties.
"Over the past month, we've seen a return to the market by investors and although Aucklanders are still having a significant impact in the Northland housing market, they are probably looking at the upper price bracket and in areas like the Bay of Islands.
"With investors now back in the market, the fear for first home buyers is they'll be squeezed out because they don't have the buying power that investors have," Vaughan said.
He said there was a good amount of buyer interest in places like Kerikeri— a sentiment echoed by Barfoot and Thompson branch manager Hayden Clark.
"There's a lot of urgency at the moment. A lot of the high-end spec houses that were sitting around and typically quite a tough sell have started to sell.
"We've had several of them under contracts and one of them was a spec house that was advertised at $1.2 million and it sold at the asking price with a triple multi offer. Before Covid-19 it had been on the market for about six months without any real genuine inquiry."
While about 50 per cent of buyers are still locals, the town has noticed the absence of Auckland buyers recently due to level 3 restrictions which, he said, have also kept visitor accommodation full in Kerikeri and nearby Paihia through winter.
Realestate.co.nz spokeswoman Vanessa Taylor said several factors were driving an increase in asking prices across regional New Zealand.
"I suspect that low-interest rates and the removal of LVR restrictions earlier this year are enabling more people to enter the property market. Plus, many Kiwis are still returning home because of Covid-19 so I don't think there is a shortage of buyers in New Zealand right now."
"As we have seen in the cramped rental market, everyone needs somewhere to live. Given our country's long-term housing shortage, I expect demand will remain high with both owner-occupiers and investors looking to achieve their property goals."
With the national housing shortage not getting better and with all-time stock lows in nearly half of our regions, Taylor said buyers across the country had less choice than ever in August.
For more property news and listings go to oneroof.co.nz