Sports columnist and broadcaster Phil Gifford strolled into Las Vegas airport, pulled out his mobile phone and landed the biggest residential property deal in his hometown of Waihi Beach.

While Gifford, also known as Loosehead Len, was flying between Los Angeles and Las Vegas on Saturday, Professionals auctioneer Doug Morris was working hard selling his two-level, four-bedroom beachfront home.

The bidding, which started on the front lawn in Shaw Rd and continued indoors when the rain came, stalled at $1.72 million.

The auction, which attracted 80 people, including three bidders, took a break while the sales agent waited for the owner to reach the airport terminal so she could speak to him.

Finally, after a chat with Gifford and the highest bidder, she sealed a $1.75 million sale - a record for Waihi Beach. The previous highest, established a year ago, was $1.65 million for a renovated house in The Loop.

A Waikato farmer bought Gifford's 4-year-old Linea weatherboard home, which has a capital valuation of $1.48 million.

Gifford, who is on a two-month musical tour of the southern states, bought an old fibrolite bach on the 809sq m section overlooking the beach in 1989, and in 2002 built the present house.

Like his wife Jan, Gifford grew up in the area and attended Waihi College. The couple spent 11 years in Christchurch before returning in 1988.

The Giffords have family and friends spread around the world and they put their waterfront property on the market so they could be free to visit them more often.

A block away from Shaw Rd, a two-level cottage on a 809sq m section in Dillon St was snapped up for $600,000.

There were four people bidding for the 35-year-old cottage with self-contained flats upstairs and downstairs.

And another Waikato farmer bought a third property - a 40-year-old brick-and-tile house on a full section - for $725,000 in Pio Rd, opposite the boat club in Bowentown.

Mr Morris, who operates Professionals Papamoa Realty, said there was a lot of interest in the auctions. "We just moved from one property to the other, in between the rain."

Mike Fowler, principal of Fowler Real Estate, said the prices exceeded his expectation, considering the way the market had slowed.

"Having so many properties up at once, we had out-of-towners coming to have a look over the Easter weekend. It was their first time in Waihi Beach and they kept saying, 'This is not a bad sort of place'. I guess better real estate near the beach will always be in demand."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES